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Your Take: A Year After BP, Gulf Is Not Back

On the anniversary of the Gulf oil spill, all is not well for the people or the environment of the Gulf. The oil may be gone, but the damage remains, says a Gulf-restoration advocate.

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Until then, the people of the Gulf Coast will continue to fight to hold BP accountable -- and hope for a healthier and resilient future. On April 20, the one-year anniversary of the BP disaster, a community of fishermen, environmental-justice advocates and Gulf Coast families will gather at the Rev. Percy Griffin Community Center, named after the Plaquemines Parish civil rights leader, to commemorate the lives of the 11 men who died in the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. Gulf communities will come together that day to plant marsh grass to help restore the Gulf, and unveil an "Oil Spill HOPE Mural."

These communities are not so naive to believe that just because the oil is no longer visible, the Gulf is back to normal. Right now "normal," unfortunately, means coastal erosion, overfishing, dead zones and oil leaks.

The Gulf communities need something better. President Obama and Congress can take leadership and assure that BP be held fully responsible for the mess it made. Congress can order that Clean Water Act fines -- the per-barrel-spilled penalty against BP that could total as much as $20 billion -- are applied to Gulf restoration.

Brentin Mock is communications manager for the Ocean Conservancy's Gulf Restoration Center in New Orleans, which advocates for full restoration of the Gulf of Mexico.

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