Bryant taps 4 for Miss. oil spill recovery ideas

By The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is appointing four agency directors to recommend state projects for recovery from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Federal legislation says money will come from water-pollution fines that eventually will be levied against BP LLC and its partners. The fines could run into the billions, and Congress says 80 percent of the money should be spent on ecosystem and economic restoration in five Gulf states. It remains unclear how much money Mississippi will receive.

Bryant said Tuesday that he’s appointing Trudy Fisher, director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, to lead the state group that will make recovery recommendations. Joining her will be Department of Marine Resources director Bill Walker, Department of Employment Security director Mark Henry and Mississippi Development Authority director Brent Christensen.

Bryant said in a news release that Fisher, Walker, Henry and Christensen will recommend an advisory panel of elected officials from the Gulf Coast. The governor said those officials will help represent the interests of fishermen, businesses, nonprofit groups and others who were hit by the oil spill.

“Obviously, a critical part of recovery for the Gulf Coast is economic development and job creation,” Bryant said in the statement. “The livelihoods of many — especially those in the seafood and tourism industries — were directly impacted by this disaster.”

Bryant said that under the federal act, which awaits President Barack Obama’s consideration, states will spend money to restore natural resources, to create jobs and to promote the Gulf Coast economy.

Under the legislation, BP could be fined between $5.4 billion to $21.1 billion under the Clean Water Act, depending on whether the company is found grossly negligent.