BP Consent Decree Finalized

Where It Leaves Gulf Restoration 6 Years After the Spill

April 18, 2016

As we prepare to mark six years since the start of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, another important milestone has been reached in Gulf restoration: the court has now entered the consent decree among the federal government, five Gulf states, and BP. This puts to an end years of speculation and disputes regarding how much BP will pay in civil penalties and natural resource damages.

Some of the more significant facts and figures about the consent decree are summarized below:


Infographic created with Canva

With the consent decree finalized, it is now clear how much money will flow to the Gulf for restoration and recovery efforts. The following graphic lays out where funds from the three main restoration and recovery processes – the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA), the RESTORE Act, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – are going:

Restoration Funds

Altogether, $16.7 billion will be flowing through the 3 main restoration processes. 

Note that:

  • “Regionwide” includes funds going to the region-wide restoration area and adaptive management and unknown conditions under the NRDA process, as well as funds going to Pots 2 (RESTORE Council) and 4 (NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program) of the RESTORE Act.

  • “Open Ocean” includes funds going to the open ocean restoration area under the NRDA process.

Now that the funding picture is clear, the focus will turn to implementation. As we move into this next stage, there are a number of key questions and issues that need to be addressed to ensure that there is effective, long-term restoration. For example:

  • How do we ensure funds are going to “good” projects?

  • How can we ensure projects are achieving their goals over time?

  • How can we ensure coordination among projects and programs?

  • How can we ensure the processes are transparent and accountable?

Answering these questions will require a Gulf-wide effort, including public participation to ensure that restoration achieves its goals. Do you have any opinions about these questions? Or, other issues that you think will be important moving forward? Please let us know what you think by submitting comments in the form at the bottom of this post. We may publish your comments in a subsequent post.

Public engagement has been a key factor in getting to this point. But now that the funds are finalized, restoration itself is only just beginning. The coming decades will be crucial in determining the future of the Gulf Coast, and if the past six years are any indication, continued engagement could make all the difference.