Tracking the trials and legal decisions in the aftermath of the 2010 BP disaster has been a long, sometimes frustrating and complicated process.

The lawsuit to hold BP accountable for the destruction in the Gulf of Mexico resulting from the largest oil spill in U.S. history began in 2013. This lawsuit deals with violation of the Clean Water Act and is divided into three phases. Last year, phase one was to determine the liability of BP and other parties in the spill and phase two to determine how much oil was spilled. On Jan. 20, the third phase of the BP civil trial began. This phase will determine the fine BP will pay — how much money per barrel of oil spilled. Once the third phase is completed, the full penalty will be determined, and we will know the amount that can be used for restoration.

Meanwhile, the RESTORE Council has begun to evaluate projects submitted by the Gulf Coast states and agencies for selection as restoration projects funded by BP penalties.

Even before the spill, Louisiana had no shortage of coastal restoration challenges. Obviously, we have considerably more challenges now as a result of the spill. As we get closer to finding out the extent of the damage and how much BP will be fined, we urge everyone to remember why this money is coming to the Gulf.

It comes at the cost of the largest man-made environmental disaster in the country’s history. It must be spent on a broad, comprehensive plan for restoration for habitat, wildlife and people.

Rebecca Triche

executive director, Louisiana Wildlife Federation

Baton Rouge