Jessica Koelsch with National Wildlife Federation applauds during press conference.
PENSACOLA, Florida -
On the surface, there aren't many signs of the oil spill that crippled economies and devastated habitats.
"It's not all finished. We still have got a lot to do." Escambia county commissioner Grover Robinson says planning for the future is underway as communities wait for fine money that will fund projects to restore the gulf coast. "We have a great opportunity to really promote this whole gulf wide economy which stretches from New Orleans to Tallahassee."
Talk to an environmentalist and it's mother nature that takes priority. "Tourism, whether we like it or not, tourism is a huge part of Escambia county and actually the gulf areas economy. Without the clean water and beautiful beaches and the abundant fisheries people are not going to come," says Jessica Koelsch with the National Wildlife Federation.
If we've learned anything in the last three years it's that the economy and the environment along the gulf coast are tied together and if one is not healthy neither is the other.
"This is the planning time," says Robinson, "so when we do get the money and the rules we will be ready to go."
Who gets what and where and how that money will be spent is still in question. "I think there is a whole lot of money and I think there is a whole lot of promise and opportunity out there but we have to be real careful how we handle that opportunity that's been handed to us," says charter boat captain Jim Summer.
Three years after the BP disaster the wait to be made whole continues and the battle for the billions of dollars in fine money to fund the recovery is heating up.
It is expected to take at least three months before a federal judge rules on who's to blame for the Deepwater Horizon disaster.