Former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz will now help counties in the Florida Panhandle continue to recover from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Just as some counties in the Florida Panhandle are preparing to start receiving more settlement money to be used for recovery efforts, House Speaker Richard Corcoran has appointed Gaetz to the Triumph Gulf Coast board of directors, which now has a total of seven members instead of five.
“I can think of no one better suited to ensure fair and equitable distribution of the settlement funds,” said Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes. Corcoran continued about Gaetz, saying he “has dedicated his life to public service and to the people, places and prosperity of the Panhandle. I can think of no one better suited to ensure fair and equitable distribution of the settlement funds. A leader of integrity and courage, his willingness to continue serving the people of the Panhandle is a testament to the love he has for his community and his commitment to public service.”
Gaetz served as Senate president from 2013 to 2014. Gaetz was a driving force behind creating the Oil Spill Economic Recovery Act, which manages three-fourths of the $2 billion the state will receive during the next 13 years from BP as part of the settlement in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The disaster released millions of gallons of oil off the Florida coast, negatively impacting businesses and people living along the coast.
“I have not asked for this appointment; it was something of a surprise. I’m very grateful to Speaker Corcoran, and I’m proud to serve as his representative on the board. As the sponsor of the legislation that created this settlement fund, I have a strong personal interest in seeing that the $1.5 billion is used to truly diversify our regional economy,” Gaetz said.
Two bills signed this past legislative session release the first $300 million out of $400 million to Bay, Escambia, Franklin, Gulf, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla and Walton counties via Triump Gulf Coast. Other members of the board include former House Speaker Allan Bense, Bob Bonezzi, Stan Connally Jr., Pam Dana, and Stephen Riggs IV.
Jason Shaof, vice president of the St. Joe Natural Gas Company, was also appointed to the board last week by Senate President Joe Negron.