As we approach April 20, 2014, four years since the Deepwater Horizon exploded off Louisiana’s coast in the Gulf of Mexico, communities across our Coast are reminded daily of the destruction caused by BP’s negligence. Last Friday (21 March), U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier announced the start date for the third and final phase of the civil trial against BP – January 20, 2015 which will determine the amount of fines BP will pay as a result of the 2010 BP Oil Disaster.In 2013, the first two phases focused on the liability of BP and its drilling partners, and how much oil was released into the Gulf of Mexico.With the court date set for 20 January 2015, it will be another year or more before BP finds out exactly how much they will have to pay in Clean Water Act fines. Meaning, we won’t find out how much money the RESTORE Council will receive to begin restoration across the five Gulf States.While we are still in a waiting period to know how much money will come down the pike – and thus which restoration projects will rise tothe top for implementation – we have an opportunity to ensure that the process moving forward reflects the needs of our communities. Public participation and transparency are vital to help ensure that our decision-makers favor restoration that benefits our communities and our environment. The Gulf Restoration Network and Gulf Future Coalition, a diverse coalition of community groups and organizations across the Gulf Coast, are currently working towards that goal.Visit GulfFuture.org to learn more about how you can get involved.To read more about the BP Trial and Judge Barbier’s decision, see Friday’s Times-Picayune article.