La. nonprofits to get BP funds

Forty-three nonprofit organizations and government agencies in Louisiana will share more than $15.9 million from BP for promotion of tourism and seafood, Patrick Juneau, the Deepwater Horizon claims administrator, said Wednesday.

Another $27.7 million was granted to 67 organizations and agencies for the same purposes in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, Juneau added in a written statement.

Louisiana led all four states in grant recipients and awards, according to figures released by the administrator.

Florida organizations were awarded more than $13.3 million.

Those in Alabama received $8.3 million, and $6 million went to organizations in Mississippi.

All of the grants are funded by BP as part of its mitigation of economic and environmental damage caused in 2010 by the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. That explosion killed 11 men and led to an underwater well leak that spread about five million barrels of oil into sensitive marine and estuarine areas across the Gulf region.

“This was a very thorough process,” said Juneau, a Lafayette attorney appointed by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, of New Orleans, to process claims and grants as part of a proposed settlement between BP and more than 100,000 claimants. Barbier is scheduled to hold a fairness hearing on that proposal Thursday.

“We feel each of these (grant) applicants presented a unique and well-defined plan to use these funds as tourism generators and promotion of local seafood,” Juneau said.

“It’s good to see these grants quickly awarded to so many worthy organizations,” Steve Herman and Jim Roy, attorneys for victims in the class-action suit, said in a written statement.

BP spokesman Scott Dean added: “The grants awarded by the … settlement program today — totaling more than $43 million — provide significant benefits to members of the class and to the entire Gulf region, all before any decision by the court on final approval of the settlement.”

Dean also noted that Juneau has paid out more than $1 billion in settlement money since March.

Prior to the proposed settlement, BP agreed to pay $20 billion for cleanup operations, reimbursement of state and local government expenses and damage claims.

Ray Melick, media and communications director for BP America’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, said last month the giant oil company already had paid $22.8 billion on the effort.

Both Juneau and BP officials have estimated that more than $7 billion in additional funding may be necessary in future years.

Other than a $2.3 billion maximum established for compensation of the seafood industry, Dean said last month “the settlement is uncapped.”

BP provided a total $57 million in grants for the promotion of tourism and seafood in the region.

More than $13 million of that total will not be available until a second round of applications is announced.

None of the grants can exceed $500,000 in a particular year, Juneau explained. Some of this year’s grant recipients will receive additional funds in 2013, said Nick Gagliano, Juneau’s spokesman.

Louisiana grant recipients include Lieutenant Governor’s Office/Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism; Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival; Southeast Louisiana GUMBO Partnership; River Parishes Convention and Visitors Bureau, or CVB; River Parishes Tourist Commission; Tangipahoa Parish Tourist Commission; West Baton Rouge CVB; Visit Baton Rouge; Oak Alley Foundation.

Also, Vernon Parish Tourism Commission; St. Martin Parish Tourist Commission; Allen Parish Tourist Commission; New Orleans Marketing Corp.; Bayou Classic; Tangipahoa Parish African American Museum; Vermilion Parish Tourist Commission; Audubon Nature Institute; St. John Parish Government; New Orleans City Park.

Also, New Orleans Museum of Art; St. Tammany Parish Tourist Commission; City of Opelousas Tourism Office; Lafourche Parish Government; New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau; Shreveport Downtown Development District; Gulf Coast Oyster Industry Council; Jefferson Parish CVB.

Also, Bayou Country Children’s Museum; Lafayette Convention and Visitors Bureau; Livingston Parish Tourist Commission; Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival; Iberia Parish CVB; Terrebonne Consolidated Government; Terrebonne Library 2012 Writers Conference.

Also, Louisiana Marathon; National World War II Museum; Fore Kids Foundation; New Orleans Oyster Festival; Town of Grand Isle; St. Bernard Parish Tourist Commission; Town of Lafitte; Plaquemines Parish; and Shadows on the Teche.