The states affected by the 2010 BP oil spill have gotten $1 billion to restore damaged areas.
Alabama plans to spend most of its share destroying an undeveloped beach and then rebuilding a lodge and conference center wrecked by a hurricane in 2004.
“We believe we lost millions of visitors, we don’t believe it, we’re sure we did," said N. Gunter Guy Jr., the Alabama Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources."We lost millions of visitors. You got to understand, there was oil in the water for 87 days.”
So far, Alabama plans to spend $85 million on the redevelopment project. Less than 10 percent of the state’s share of the money is earmarked for restoring the natural coastline.
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Florida plans to spend 90 percent of its funds restoring beaches, wildlife, oysters and sport fishing. Louisiana plans to spend all of its share on restoring wildlife habitat, fisheries, marshes and barrier islands.
“You are doing more harm than good by plopping down a huge beach front development on important habitat,” said Aaron Viles from the nonprofit group, Gulf Restoration Network.
“Somebody has to be hired, somebody’s got to build it, somebody’s got to design it,” Guy said. “If you’re talking about that, yes, there’s an economic development component of it. But it’s a restoration project addressing injury. End of statement.”