BY LIZA STROUT - On July 6, President Obama signed the RESTORE Act, which reallocates 80% of the fines levied against BP by the federal government as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the states.
Prior to the bill, fines from the Clean Water Act would have gone to the U.S. Treasury. Now, anywhere from $4 to $16.8 billion dollars will go into a trust for the affected states, including Florida.
Other changes will affect local businesses more directly. Restrictions on who could file and the standards for eligibility meant that many local businesses did not qualify under previous rules. Those restrictions have eased.
“I think this is an excellent opportunity for local businesses who did not qualify with the previous restrictions to recoup some of their losses from the Deep Water Horizon spill,” said Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lew Hastings.
"Let's face it, everyone lost business, including the Chamber,” he continued. “All of the work the Chamber had to do to market the fact that we were still open for business was costly and far more intensive than what we would be doing for the average season. I think businesses are still struggling in an effort to offset the damage done to our short, strong tourist season here in SW Florida.”
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