Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- In just a few weeks, the Gulf Coast will mark one year since the BP oil spill -- a year where oil marred beaches and Louisiana's delicate coastal wetlands.
'We, as an industry and as a company and as agencies, have all learned from this and we are learning,' said Mike Utsler, chief operating officer of the Gulf Coast Restoration Organization.
BP set up the GCRO to deal with the spill. On Tuesday, the GCRO opened up its New Orleans office, in an effort to show they are still working on the oil spill.
'BP's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization is really centered on four things,' Utsler said. 'The first and foremost is continuing the completion of this response.'
Dan Favre is with the environmental advocacy 'Gulf Restoration Network.' The group has a similar name to BP's GCRO, but with a totally different take on the response.
'Unfortunately, the response is clearly lacking,' Favre said. 'We're coming up on the one-year memorial mark of the beginning of BP's disaster here in the Gulf. And so it's just crazy that there hasn't been any action to actually start to repair the damage that's been done.'
That is true, in part. BP set aside hundreds of millions of dollars for their restoration organization, but a year after the spill, only one of their restoration projects is so far underway.
'One of those is already in progress in Mississippi, in terms of wetland restoration,' Utsler said. 'Other projects are in discussion in readiness for being approved and agreed to with NRDA [Natural Resource Damage Assessment] trustees, the states and ourselves to conduct.'
However, none of those projects is currently underway in Louisiana -- arguably the state hardest hit by the spill. Utsler said they are working on a list of projects, with pending approval. Yet, some environmental groups believe the federal government needs to step in to move the restoration along.
'I don't think we can leave it to BP to do it on their own accord,' Favre said. 'I want to see Congress and the administration actually make BP pay for Gulf ecosystem restoration, by levying the maximum fines and penalties under the Clean Water Act and then allocating those resources directly to environmental restoration in the Gulf.'
All of this comes on the same day that BP released it's 2010 Sustainability Report, a company review of last year. Some environmentalists said the report wasn't forthcoming because it doesn't list the total amount of oil spilled from the Macondo Well. BP acknowledges that in the report, by saying that even though there are third-party oil spill estimates out there, 'no accurate determination' can be made of how much oil spilled, until 'further information is collected and analyzed.'