Allen "Rookie" Kruse, a charter boat captain, sits beside his boat docked at Zeke's Landing Marine in Orange Beach on May 6 while talking about the economic impact the oil spill was having on his business.
Tallahassee, Florida - A lot of jobs are on the line as Congress prepares to vote on a bill that would set aside the cash BP will eventually pay in fines for last year's oil spill. That's according to a new report from the Environmental Defense Fund. The report also concludes those fines could help launch an entire new industry focusing on coastal restoration.
It's estimated BP will pay between $5 billion and $21 billion in Clean Water Act fines for spilling about five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Proposed federal legislation called the RESTORE Act would dedicate 80 percent of that money to restoring the Gulf.
"This is going to create jobs for a lot of firms around the Gulf. We know there are 60 firms in Florida, including firms in Tampa, Jacksonville, outside Miami. Some of them do design work. Some of them do construction work. Some of them do logistics to get the equipment where it needs to be. All of these firms need customers though and the RESTORE Act can actually bring the customers to these firms that they need so they have the ability to grow and add jobs," said Jackie Roberts of the Environmental Defense Fund.
She believes the BP fines could help jumpstart a new ecosystem restoration industry led by Florida businesses.
"If Florida firms learn how to do it and they do it for the restoration of their region and they do it using the BP monies from the RESTORE Act, they'll be able to be the experts and they'll own this industry around the world."
Roberts says Taylor Engineering, a design firm with offices in Jacksonville and Tampa, would be uniquely positioned to benefit from the RESTORE Act.
She adds that a lot of countries around the world are starting coastal management programs and RESTORE Act funding could help U.S. businesses market their expertise globally.
A federal House committee will consider the legislation this week.