CRESTVIEW — Okaloosa County commissioners have selected City Councilman Thomas Gordon to represent the north county in oil spill recovery efforts.
Gordon is one of 11 members of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies advisory committee. The RESTORE committee determines how to allocate funding following 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Gordon, one of two Okaloosa League of Cities members selected, represents the county’s north end. Destin Mayor Sam Seevers represents the county’s south end.
The RESTORE Act of 2012 allows Florida shoreline counties — from Escambia to Wakulla — 75 percent of the state’s share from fines levied against BP for its role in the oil spill.
"The RESTORE Act established a Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund in the U.S. Treasury in which 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties from the Deep Horizon Oil Spill will be distributed to impacted areas for recovery," the Okaloosa County website states.
Florida is among five states to receive a portion of 80 percent from the total fines levied.
In an example provided on the Okaloosa County website, if Florida were awarded $10 billion, Okaloosa would receive 15.57 percent of the funds, or $65,394,000.
The RESTORE Act requires each county to form an advisory committee that represents areas including government, education, tourism, the environment and economic development, according to the U.S. Treasury.
"The intent of the RESTORE Act funds is to put the Gulf Coast back where it was before the oil spill," Gordon said.
As a professional in the heating ventilation and air conditioning industry, he knows firsthand the disaster’s impact.
"I saw several HVAC companies close and some drastically downsized," Gordon said. "In my company, it was the worst few years in our 30 (plus) year history, as it was also compounded by the real estate bubble."
Many area HVAC services depended on condominiums in Destin and other shoreline areas that tourists occupy seasonally. Following the spill, when condos didn't fill up, HVAC services went elsewhere, Gordon said.
Addressing the widespread need of recovery funding is important, he said.
"The proper and responsible application of the settlement monies is absolutely critical and I look forward to getting started," Gordon said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.