The RESTORE Act, passed by Congress last year, dictates that 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties paid by BP be divided among Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas. Not only would a large chunk of that money be spread out evenly among the Gulf states, but the legislation also gives them some flexibility in deciding how the money is spent.
Morrell said suggestions that BP is "dragging its feet" with respect to Clean Water Act and natural resource damages payments "conveniently ignore that the law provides for these amounts to be determined through the judicial and regulatory process — to which BP is subject — not their own political whim."
Jindal said in May that Louisiana will get $320 million from the $1 billion that BP has put into another pot for coastal restoration, but Graves said it likely will be years before Louisiana gets the money.
The council approved a plan for using 80 percent of BP's as-yet-to-be-determined Clean Water Act fines to help restore the Gulf. U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said Wednesday they hope to put money into restoration projects within 12 months.
The blueprint is short on specifics because state plans aren't yet complete and BP's fines are in litigation. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier will decide how much BP must pay under the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
One way or another, Gulf Coast states will wind up with 54 percent of the money from Clean Water Act fines — or 67.5 percent of the share overseen by the council.
States get 28 percent directly and 24 percent for restoration, economic and tourism projects that they choose but which the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council can veto. The council itself will allocate another 24 percent for ecosystem restoration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will get 2 percent for a monitoring, observation, science and technology program.
The remaining 20 percent will go into a trust fund to cover the cost of future oil spills.
Associated Press Writer Janet McConnaughey contributed to this report.