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Jeff Atwater

As Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, I am committed to ensuring that every citizen and every business negatively affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are made whole. While the stories have dropped from the headlines, I am well aware that real struggles continue, and I am determined to ensure every legitimate claim gets paid and every community is restored.

Even for those of you who have accepted final payment from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), I know that does not mean your challenges are over. Many Floridians are facing economic challenges today, that's why I launched Your Money Matter$, a financial education initiative that aims to teach Floridians of all ages how to make the most out of their money, and for small businesses how to strengthen and grow their enterprises.

My Department has been involved from the beginning and understands that oil spill victims are not asking for a handout, only what they are due. When that happens, only then can we declare an end to the oil spill.

Press Releases

January 10, 2012 – Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater’s Letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder inquiring as to when the U.S. Department of Justice plans to commence its audit of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF).

January 20, 2011 – Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater’s Letter to BP Claims Administrator Kenneth Feinberg on formally requesting that a representative of the Florida Department of Financial Services participate in the methodology created to determine claims payments.

May 13, 2010 – Summary of the Federal Administration's Proposed Oil Spill Legislation.

In the News

Fraud pollutes BP oil-spill compensation fund for Gulf Coast victims from Florida to Louisiana - Miami Herald 8-19-12

Florida counties plan for BP oil spill fines - CBS News 8-17-12

Legislative Efforts

Although more than a dozen bills or resolutions related to the oil spill were filed for consideration by the Florida Legislature in 2011, the provisions of only three of the bills were adopted.

SM 218: Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster/Penalties
MEMORIAL by Gaetz; (CO-INTRODUCERS) Latvala; Sobel; Bullard

This is a memorial to the Congress of the United States, urging Congress to dedicate penalties collected from parties responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster to repairing the environmental and economic damage caused by the disaster. Under current federal law, the Clean Water Act gives the federal government the authority to fine the responsible parties, BP, Transocean, Halliburton and others, after an oil spill based on their actions or lack of action that led to the oil spill. However, under current law, these penalties are not returned to the place where the injuries occurred. In other words, the money would simply go to the federal government and could be used for unrelated federal spending, instead of going to repair the area that was devastated by the spill. Both houses of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives are in fact considering legislation that would implement the memorial. Both bills (S. 1400 and H.R. 3096) are entitled RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act of 201. RESTORE is an acronym for Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economy. The RESTORE Act would establish the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund which would receive 80% of all fines and civil penalties levied as punishment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to pay for restoration projects along the Gulf Coast. The Governor of each of the Gulf Coast States, in consultation with specific state agencies, would have ultimate authority to award contracts to support projects and programs that would restore, protect, and make sustainable use of the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine habitats, coastal wetlands, and economy in his State. The Florida Congressional Delegation is working on the passage of this legislation.

SB 248: Economic Recovery/Deepwater Horizon Disaster
GENERAL BILL by Budget; Budget Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development Appropriations; Community Affairs; Gaetz; (CO-INTRODUCERS) Montford; Evers.

Most of the provisions of this bill were added to SB 2156, which was adopted by the Legislature. To address the negative economic impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the bill:

  • Defines the following counties as “disproportionally affected counties” and waives job, wage, and other requirements for businesses seeking economic development incentives in these counties: Bay, Escambia, Franklin, Gulf, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Wakulla.
  • Provides that during a state of emergency permits are tolled and an additional 6 months is added to existing permits.
  • Creates the Commission on Oil Spill Response Coordination (expires Sept. 2012).
  • Appropriates $10 million per year for three fiscal years to develop and implement an economic strategic plan in counties designated as disproportionally affected.
  • Directs how funds received by the state for damages caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill may be directed.

HM 0009: Supporting the Marketing of Florida Seafood
MEMORIAL by Rouson (CO-SPONSORS) Kriseman

This is a memorial that urges Congress to allocate moneys generated from federal marine and fishery product import tariffs for the domestic marketing of Florida seafood. It also urges Congress to pass legislation dedicating a significant portion of these tariffs to a national marketing fund to promote domestic seafood products. Finally, it urges the Florida Congressional Delegation to work with representatives of other seafood-producing states to secure adequate funding for effective and sustained domestic marketing of United States’ seafood.