Enviros Dispute $60 Million Hotel Built with Gulf Restoration Funds
U.S. environmental groups are on their way to court to prevent the state of Alabama from using recovery funds from BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster to build a new beachfront hotel.
Under federal rules for distributing up to $18 billion in coastal restoration funds, Alabama qualified for $60 million to build a hotel and conference centre at a state park on the coast. “The regulations do call for lost human recreation and use of the resources,” explained restoration biologist Ben Frater of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “So that was a way to get people to the beach to enjoy the resources that they were unable to take advantage of during the spill.”
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The state had been looking for funds to rebuild a lodge destroyed 10 years earlier by Hurricane Ivan, and Commissioner Gunter Guy of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said recreational restoration was easier to quantify than ecological damage. “Sure, we could try to spend that on some more quote-unquote environmental projects,” he told NPR. “We chose to do it on what we did because we think it’s the right thing to do.”
“There were no oiled convention centres,” responded policy analyst Jordan Macha of the Gulf Restoration Network. “They see this as their cash cow of being able to move this project forward with monies that really should be going towards real restoration of the environment.”