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Gulf Coast Advocates Call for BP to Face Full Penalty for Oil Spill

By Daniel Cherry | Published 16 Apr 2013 06:32pm | comments
Environmentalists, residents, and community activists along the Mississippi Gulf Coast are calling for BP to face the maximum penalty for the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, Saturday marks the 3rd anniversary of what's considered the worst environmental disaster in American history.
 
The disaster killed eleven men and dumped more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and environmental and community advocates say they want justice. BP is currently on trial for its involvement in the disaster. Raleigh Hoke, the Mississippi Organizer with the Gulf Restoration Network hopes BP will be found liable for billions of dollars in damages that can be used to repair the coast.
 
"What we really need to do is to make sure that the Restore Act dollars, the BP fines, and other funds come to the Gulf Coast for ecosystem restoration that will provide long-term benefits and make the Gulf and the Mississippi Gulf Sound stronger into the future", said Hoke.
 
Advocates say oil is still washing up in some places along the Mississippi coast, and communities have been broken up due to the impact the spill had on the fishing industry. Roberta Avila with the Steps Coalition fears jobs won't return until harvests go back to normal. 
 
"The disaster, in addition to taking the lives of 11 workers has really impacted and we've seen reductions and irregularities in the shrimp, oyster, and crab harvests", says Avila.
 
Under the Restore Act which was passed last year, 80 percent of penalties BP is forced to pay under the Clean Water Act will go towards restoring environment and economies of the Gulf Coast. Terese Collins with the Gulf Islands Conservancy wants environmental cleanup to be top priority because she believes it's the same as economic development.
 
"By doing things that can make the environment better for all of us it's a win, win for both of them", says Collins. "Because if you clean up one, the economy will grow. If we do not clean up our environment and the ecology of the coast, then we could have economic disasters for years to come."
 
If a federal judge in New Orleans finds BP deliberately ignored safety protocols, the Clean Water Act fines against BP that would go into local communities could potentially reach more than 15 billion dollars.

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