Public urged to voice opinions on oil spill money at Tuesday's meeting

Public urged to voice opinions on oil spill money at Tuesday's meeting

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Residents and business owners on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are invited and urged to attend a public forum on Tuesday to review and comment on two documents that are crucial to restoration plans from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality will host the meeting in the FEC Auditorium of University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast campus in Long Beach. An open house will begin at 5 p.m. and be followed by the meeting at 6 p.m.

Once approved, the total compensation to offset injuries resulting from the oil spill disaster will reach at least $2.7 billion.

The Consent Decree, the Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan, or PDARP, and the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, or PEIS, are the two documents that are open to public comment for 60 days.

"We have worked diligently with all parties to forge a path for the future environmental and economic restoration of Mississippi," said MDEQ Executive Director Gary Rikard. "Thousands of Mississippians have followed this journey of response, recovery, and restoration from the beginning and have faithfully engaged to provide a vision for restoring Mississippi. We want to hear from the public on these documents because their insight is invaluable and vital to the process."

Rikard serves as the state's trustee for the Natural Resource Damage Assessment, or NRDA, under the Oil Pollution Act and is tasked with leading Mississippi's recovery from the oil spill.

The Consent Decree details what BP must pay to the Gulf States and the United States to resolve environmental claims, economic governmental claims, and civil penalties. It also contains information on the proposed resolution of natural resource damage claims, or NRDA, and the state's economic loss claim under the Oil Pollution Act, as well.

Additionally, the Consent Decree includes proposed civil penalties under the Clean Water Act, of which 80% will be directed to the Gulf States for environmental and economic restoration via the RESTORE Act.

The PDARP and PEIS describes the injury to the environment studied through the NRDA under the Oil Pollution Act. It also lays out the restoration pathway to restore natural resources and services that were injured and lost as a result of the oil spill. Once approved, additional restoration plans will be developed that identify specific restoration projects in Mississippi, as well as the other Gulf States and the Gulf of Mexico.

Both the Consent Decree and the PDARP/PEIS will not be finalized until they are approved by the Court, who will take into consideration the public's comments and review of both documents before reaching a decision.

The documents stem from the previously announced Agreement in Principle that called for $1.5 billion in additional relief to Mississippi to recover environmental and economic damages resulting from the oil spill.  Combined with $659 million in early funding, Mississippi is on tap to receive a minimum of nearly $2.17 billion in compensation.

Total global settlement values to resolve civil claims under the Clean Water Act and natural resource damage claims under the Oil Pollution Act, as well as remaining economic claims of the five Gulf States and municipalities, are worth more than $20 billion.

The documents and supplemental materials are available for review and comment at Comprehensive information about all aspects of Mississippi's restoration efforts can be found at

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