(MOBILE, Ala.) Oil giant BP could be in the running for billions of dollars in tax breaks if a settlement with the federal government is reached.
Congressman Jo Bonner (R-Alabama) says the deal would circumvent the intent of the Restore Act altogether, which was signed into law in July.
In turn, the deal could take money away from Alabama and the Gulf Coast.
The thought of BP getting a huge tax write off is a hard pill for Gulf Coast business owners to swallow.
In April of 2010, Richard Rutland made his dream of becoming a charter captain come true.
"It's been a lot of fun. It's been very rewarding. I get to take a lot of different people fishing all the time," said Rutland, Owner and Captain of Cold Blooded Fishing in Mobile.
But achieving success wasn't easy. He got his charter license in the mail a week after the Deepwater Horizon Explosion.
"I ended up having to work for BP that first summer. I think I only ran six or eight fishing trips my first year which was depressing and hard to get past," he said.
Now, negotiations between BP and the federal government could result in the oil giant reaping billions of dollars in tax credits.
"They absolutely destroyed peoples lives. We had a boat captain down in Orange Beach commit suicide in the summer of 2010. It tore people apart . It tore people's businesses apart. People are still trying to get on their feet from it. Why reward their behavior with a tax break?" Rutland said.
If the settlement goes through, BP would pay less in Clean Water Act fines and more to the Natural Resource Damage Assessment.
And NRDA fines are tax deductible.
Congressman Jo Bonner says the deal would circumvent the intent of the Restore Act.
"If this settlement goes global and NRDA controls this then guess what? That money can be used in the Florida everglades. It can be used to do something on the Atlantic Coast of Florida, which wasn't even impacted by the oil spill" said Bonner.
He believes politics and the upcoming election play a role.
"The Justice Department you would think would be fighting for the people who were victims. Instead it appears they are fighting to get a settlement so the President can go announce this great thing that Florida will benefit from. Alabama will lose and Mississippi will lose," said Congressman Bonner.
For Richard Rutland, the thought that BP could benefit from all this is a slap in the face.
He received claim money from BP two years ago, but hasn't seen a dime since.
"I'm still angry about the entire thing. Just how it was all handled and the fact that it even happened," said Rutland.
Congressman Bonner says currently, under the Restore Act, Gulf Coast government officials have the ability to decide how to spend the BP fine money. But if this new settlement is reached, most of the power would shift into the hands of the federal government.