November 16, 2012 – Two-and-a-half years after the nation’s worst environmental catastrophe killed their sea life, stained their shores and slammed their economies, Gulf Coast communities soon will start receiving billions in fine money levied against BP for the massive 2010 oil spill. BP has agreed to pay $4.5 billion to settle charges in the spill, the largest criminal penalty ever assessed, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday. As part of the company’s settlement with the Justice Department, about $2.4 billion will be earmarked for the five Gulf Coast states — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas — for environmental restoration, preservation and conservation efforts, including barrier-island creation and river diversion projects. Louisiana, the state that suffered the worst damage, will get $1.2 billion for coastal rehabilitation, according to the Justice Department. The other four states will split the remaining $1.2 billion for land acquisition efforts along the Gulf Coast.