As the five-year anniversary approaches later this month of the BP oil spill, the Environmental Defense Fund is gearing up for monitoring how restoration money is used to repair damage.
The Restore Act sets aside 80 percent of the still-undetermined billions of dollars in fines BP will be ordered to pay in Clean Water Act fines.
Some projects are already drawing critics. The Gulf Restoration Network is suing to block the money from being used for an Alabama convention center.
Natalie Peyronnin is director of science policy for the Environmental Defense Fund.
“A lot of our focus is on how the dollars are going to be spent, and ensuring that dollars are not inappropriately spent by federal agencies, by BP, by the states," Peyronnin said. "There has to be oversight. There has to be somebody looking out for the natural resources and the communities of the Gulf to make sure that money is spent properly and actually leads up to a successful and healthy Gulf. This is a large amount of money and when you have that amount of money people want a piece of the pie.”
The group has not singled out a Louisiana project. Gulfport, Mississippi, needs to find up to $80 million to finish an aquarium development, and is banking on funding to come from the Restore Act.