It's been nearly five years since BP slimed the Gulf Coast, taking the lives of 11 men, wrecking livelihoods and killing tens of thousands of helpless coastal birds. Finally, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is heading into the final stretch, deciding how much the third-largest oil company in the world will have to pay in pollution fines for the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

It's time to hold BP accountable for the environmental damage it continues to cause the wildlife and people of the Gulf Coast. The Gulf Coast's way of life is a rich stew, a place that's uniquely American, where drilling and shrimping go hand-in-hand. But we also know whether you're talking about a curfew for your kids or creating a safe construction site, there have to be consequences when rules are blatantly ignored. America's laws acknowledge that deep-sea drilling is risky business that requires extraordinary safety measures — and that's why there are penalties for lawbreakers.

BP already admitted it broke U.S. laws and has pleaded guilty to felony manslaughter, environmental crimes and lying to Congress. One of its executives is awaiting trial on other criminal charges.

While the third and final phase of the civil trial is under way to determine how much BP will have to pay in environmental Clean Water Act penalties, BP continues to employ the big lie strategy: It's all better. Nothing to see here on the Gulf Coast, folks. Move along.

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