BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Five years after the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP is still producing television commercials saying the oil giant is committed to restoring the region.
"You've seen the commercials out there saying that the Gulf is restored, that everything is back to normal," said Rep. Garret Graves, former chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
However, normal is not how Congressman Graves and coastal restoration advocates described the coast Thursday.
"There will continue to be and we anticipate for decades we will continue to see weathered oil washing ashore," said CPRA Executive Director Kyle Graham.
But advocates also said the future of the Gulf coast just got a whole lot brighter with Thursday's announcement of the $18.7 billion settlement.
"With this settlement, I'm so happy to report we'll be able to report that for generations to come, we will still have the sportsman's paradise," said Robert Barham, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
The Attorney General's Office said Thursday's landmark announcement means over $6 billion in new money for Louisiana. Combined with money the state has already received from BP, advocates say Louisiana will get a grand total of $8.7 billion to restore the coast.
Graham says it's enough money.
"Where we are today in making this agreement in principle is built on the backs of hundreds, if not thousands of people," said Graham.
"We stuck to our guns. This decision is science-based for the state of Louisiana and we're going to make the state whole," said Rep. Graves.
Congressman Graves says the state declined other settlement offers before agreeing to the terms of what was announced Thursday.
"We must be responsible and make wise decisions on how this money will be used," said CPRA Chairman Chip Kline, Chairman. "We've got to ensure that the majority of these dollars go to restoring our ecosystems and our coastal wetlands."
The AG's office said the settlement will come in over the next 16 years, saying the deal is the largest environmental settlement ever and will likely mark the end of major court battles against BP.
"It's always good to have it on the front end rather than to have waited and risked appeals and everything else from just a ruling," said Sidney Coffee, senior advisor with America's Wetland Foundation. "So, the settlement is a good thing. It couldn't come soon enough for what we need to do for the coast."