As Congress weighs whether to send billions of dollars in oil-spill compensation to the Gulf region for restoration, a new study suggests that tens of thousands of jobs could be created by doing so.
The study, commissioned by two nonprofit groups and put together by the research firm Mather Economics, finds that 57,000 new jobs would be created if the Gulf region is given the resources to spend $15 billion over the next 10 years, CBS News reports.
That money would come by way of the Restore Act, a contentious piece of legislation that proposes to take 80 percent of any fines charged under the Clean Water Act for the BP oil spill and send them to Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida -- the five states most affected by the 2010 disaster.
The Clean Water fines are estimated to reach between $5 billion and $21 billion, according to Businessweek, meaning the five Gulf states could stand to collect anywhere from $4 billion to roughly $16 billion.
The Restore Act has widespread grassroots support throughout the Gulf region. Separate versions of the legislation have passed the House and Senate, and lawmakers are currently working on hammering out the differences between the bills.
The two organizations that commissioned the Mather report are GNO Inc., an economic development group that serves the greater New Orleans area, and the Walton Family Foundation, a grant maker overseen by Walmart founder Sam Walton's three children.
In the two years since the oil spill, the economic impact on the Gulf region hasn't been as catastrophic as many initially feared. Tourism to New Orleans reached record highs last year, and Louisiana's unemployment rate this winter was the same as it was just before the spill, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Reports this year about the Gulf region's labor market have indicated an atmosphere of cautious optimism.
Still, the residents and businesses of the Gulf have continued to do battle with BP for post-spill reparations even into this spring. In April, the Justice Department announced that the Gulf region would be getting an additional $64 million in compensation from the energy company after an audit turned up "significant errors" in how BP paid out damages in the spill's aftermath.