Target: Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
Goal: Demand settlement money from BP oil spill be used for coastal restoration and not to build a luxury hotel.
Recent legislature in Alabama allocated $85.5 million from a British Petroleum (BP) settlement to construct a luxury beachfront hotel and conference center in Alabama’s Gulf State Park. The allocation is part of a larger restoration plan by BP in the five Gulf Coast states impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in 2010. This decision has been widely criticized by Gulf Coast environmental groups, as the funds were originally intended for environmental restoration in those areas devastated by the spill.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley expressed his support for the proposed center, referring to it as an investment to revitalize tourism and job-creation in the aftermath of the oil spill. BP has openly recognized that this portion of the funds is designated for “recreational use” projects and will not directly address environmental or health issues. They claim the center will provide residents and visitors with “better access to existing natural resources.”
However, this flawed definition of “coastal restoration” distracts from the real problem and the need for cleanup. Coastal recreation opportunities won’t be viable in the long-term as long as the environment that supports them suffers.
Only the remaining $8.2 million from the settlement will be applied to shoreline and oyster reef restoration projects. While the total cost and extent of damage to the Gulf after the spill is still being determined, the figure is likely to be in the billions. The fact that such a substantial portion of the BP settlement is being used to serve economic interests instead of the health of the environment is unacceptable.
According to the Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf of Mexico Restoration campaign, David White, restoration efforts in the Gulf are far from over. “As much as one million barrels of oil from the disaster remains unaccounted for, and tar mats from the spill continue to wash up on the coast.”
Sign if you agree that lawmakers must prioritize spending for environmental restoration in the Gulf Coast over economic development.
Dear Governor Bentley,
The aftermath of the BP oil spill continues to harm the coastal environment in the Gulf. Alabama’s current plan to spend $85.5 million of BP’s settlement money on the construction of a luxury hotel and convention center and only $8.2 million on coastal restoration is a negligent and shortsighted decision.
The proposed hotel and convention center may benefit the local economy, but it fails to directly address the pressing issues of coastal restoration needed in Alabama. Tourism on the Gulf Coast depends heavily on the health of its natural resources. This is why the environment can’t be ignored solely because of an opportunity for economic development. We urge you to allocate all the money provided by BP directly into coastal restoration projects.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Kris Krug via Flickr