Florida Keys Business
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Recipients picked for BP tourism, seafood grants

NEW ORLEANS -- More than 100 nonprofit groups and government entities have been picked to get shares of $43.7 million in BP funds to promote the Gulf Coast's tourism and seafood industries following the company's 2010 oil spill.

The first round of grants announced Wednesday by court-supervised claims administrator Patrick Juneau is part of a proposed class-action settlement between BP and a team of private plaintiffs' attorneys.

The deal calls for BP to fund a total of $57 million in tourism and seafood promotion grants.

The 110 grant recipients were picked from a pool of more than 350 applicants.

In Louisiana, 43 recipients will get $15.9 million. In Florida, 33 organizations will receive $13.4 million. In Alabama, 21 groups will get $8.3 million. In Mississippi, 13 organizations will get $6 million.

"The grants should go a long way toward bolstering the Gulf's tourism and seafood industries and help revitalize the region's economy," lead plaintiffs' attorneys Steve Herman and Jim Roy said in a statement.

BP spokesman Scott Dean said the grants "provide significant benefits to members of the class and to the entire Gulf region."

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is scheduled to hold a fairness hearing Thursday on the settlement agreement. BP and the plaintiffs' lawyers are asking Barbier to give his final approval to the deal. The judge also will hear from other plaintiffs' attorneys who object to portions of the deal.

Barbier has hinted that he won't immediately rule from the bench at the conclusion of the hearing.

The proposed settlement doesn't have a cap, but BP estimates it will pay about $7.8 billion to resolve more than 100,000 claims by people and businesses who blame the spill for economic losses.

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