JACKSON- Senator Brice Wiggins has filled a bill that proposes a process for distributing funds from the BP/Deepwater Horizon settlement.
The bill proposes that 95% of the BP settlement funds be deposited annually into the Public Trust Tidelands Fund. That money is currently housed in the Gulf Restoration Fund recently created by Gov. Bryant.
“The Tidelands Trust Fund is already an established entity and the process for adopting projects is already relatively familiar to citizens and entities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. However, equally as significant, is that it is overseen and appropriated by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Legislative delegation,” said Senator Wiggins.
The bill would allow for projects like economic development, infrastructure, to be funded through the Tidelands Trust Fund. Currently that process extends to BP settlement dollars as long as the State receives payments.
The funds were initially intended for economic damages to the State and the pull recommends that that is where they are spent. Five percent of the funds would also go to the general fund for appropriation by Legislature with “no strings attached.”
“The Coast economy is intrinsically linked to the viability of the Coast’s marine resources. Tidelands funds statutorily are required to be used to manage and improve coastal resources like water quality, shrimp and oyster habitats, conservation efforts and the like. It only makes sense that a large majority of the funds be used to address the coastal resources that were so heavily impacted by the BP oil spill,” said Wiggins.