The controversy erupted as Sara Gonzalez-Rothi, senior policy analyst at the National Wildlife Federation, read the web site of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, which is charged with disbursing RESTORE Act funds under a formula established by the act. To Gonzalez-Rothi’s surprise, the Council stated that the 30 percent share of the total fund called “Pot 2”—much as $6 billion from the $20 billion fine—would be used to “implement a comprehensive plan for ecosystem and economic recovery of the Gulf Coast.”Simply put, there is no issue of greater importance to the future of Louisiana than making sure that these funds are spent appropriately. And despite some optimistic estimates, ensuring the future of the Louisiana coast is likely to cost much more than even the $6 billion tentatively appropriated to "Pot 2" here.
Economic recovery? This contradicted the letter as well as the spirit of the law which was passed after months of sometimes testy negotiations between politicians from the five gulf states, environmental groups and business interests. Pot 2, they had agreed, was to be used only for ecosystem restoration. Funding for economic restoration was to come from “Pot 1,” a 35 percent share of the fine – about $7 billion — that will go directly to each state.
I realize "economic restoration" can, in the best case, refer to the very real and ongoing need to compensate coastal businesses. But it also just mean that Gulf Coast hotels and restaurants aren't finished making TV commercials. Either way it looks to me like the wrong hands are dipping into the wrong cookie jar in this case.
Also, great to see Bob Marshall back on this beat in a more full-time capacity.