The U.S. Treasury Department says it has cleared the way for Gulf Coast states and local governments to begin applying for recovery grants through a federal RESTORE Act trust fund containing money from civil penalties in the 2010 BP oil spill.
A department statement says that, so far, the trust fund has $653 million. That figure is expected to grow by billions.
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Under rules finalized Tuesday, 35 percent of the Gulf Restoration Trust Fund will be divided equally among Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas state governments and a group of 23 Florida counties.
The federal Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council will use 30 percent for restoration and will distribute another 30 percent to the states. The remaining 5 percent is marked for research programs and monitoring.