When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burst into flames six years ago on this day, no one had any idea to how much destruction it would cause. But by the time the leak was considered dead five months later, the severity was clear. Eleven people died on the rig that first day, and since then the spread of the oil has killed nearly a million birds and caused billions of dollars in economic damages on the Gulf Coast.
It was also clear that British Petroleum would have to pay for its negligence. Earlier this month a federal judge finalized the U.S. Justice Department's settlement with the company, granting $20.8 billion for cleanup, restoration work, and reparations to victims. The sum will be doled out over a 16-year span.
The tricky part now is to make sure that the money is directed to proper sources, such as the RESTORE Act. In an article for The Huffington Post, Audubon CEO David Yarold, wrote about the value of putting every dollar of the settlement to good use.
"With the courtrooms behind us, it’s time to get to work. We need to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Every dollar of that money is needed to restore the vanishing wetlands that are the first line of protection from powerful storms like Katrina and rising sea levels for coastal communities and their economies. Those dollars will also preserve the homes for birds, wildlife, and fish that provide jobs and joy to coastal residents and visitors."
Yarnold also urges Americans to hold their lawmakers accountable for the funds and their results.
"The Gulf will not know justice until all the settlement dollars are spent on the best projects available to restore it. If we get this right, we can provide a model for regions around the world facing environmental degradation and threats from climate change.
We need to doggedly name and shame the opportunists who try to divert money that is so critically needed to jumpstart the restoration of the wetlands and coastlines. They are not only robbing the till, they are robbing future generations."
Go to HuffPo to read the rest of the article.