Where Are We Now?

A pier in Weeks Bay, Alabama. Credit: David Roche, ELI.
A pier in Weeks Bay, Alabama. Credit: David Roche, ELI.

Last updated June 21, 2016

This page provides a summary of some recent developments in the three main regional restoration and recovery processes. Click on the process you are interested in to go directly to that section:

See our Restoration Projects Database for a searchable list of all of the projects approved under the processes thus far.

If you have any suggested changes, please email us at gulfofmexico@eli.org.


 

Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)

General Overview

A NRDA is the process that governments use in their role as “trustees” to determine the injury that an oil spill has caused to natural resources, and to plan and implement an approach to restore those resources. In April 2016, the court entered a consent decree among the United States, five Gulf states, and BP. Under the terms of the decree, BP will pay up to $8.8 billion in natural resource damages. This includes the $1 billion that BP already agreed to pay to start some projects early, as well as up to $700 million for unknown injuries and adaptive management.

EARLY RESTORATION

Status

The trustees have finalized five rounds of early restoration projects. These include 65 projects costing approximately $870 million.

Recent Developments

  • In February 2016, the trustees released the Final Phase V Early Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment, which included 1 project costing approximately $34 million.

  • FULL ASSESSMENT

    Status

    In April 2016, the court entered a consent decree among the United States, five Gulf states, and BP, which settles, among other things, natural resource damages. See above under “General Overview” for more details.

    Recent Developments

  • In February 2016, the Final Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement was released. Among other things, the document “provides direction and guidance for identifying, evaluating, and selecting future restoration projects” under the NRDA process.

  • In May 2016, the trustees released their Standard Operating Procedures, which set out how the natural resource restoration monies will be “manage[d], implement[ed], and administ[ered]” over the long term.

  • In May 2016, the Mississippi Trustee Implementation Group (TIG) announced that it was accepting project ideas for 2016-2017, with a focus on four restoration types: (1) wetlands, coastal, and nearshore habitats; (2) water quality; (3) birds; and (4) oysters.

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    RESTORE Act

    General Overview

    The RESTORE Act diverts 80% of Clean Water Act civil and administrative penalties related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to a trust fund that will support five different components. Do you know which "pot" of funding you are interested in? Click to go directly to that section:

  • Pot 1: Direct Component

  • Pot 2: Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council

  • Pot 3: Spill Impact Component

  • Pot 4: NOAA Science Program

  • Pot 5: Centers of Excellence

  • GENERAL

    Status

    In April 2016, the court entered a consent decree among the United States, five Gulf states, and BP. Under the terms of the decree, BP will pay $5.5 billion in Clean Water Act civil penalties. This means that $4.4 billion will flow through the RESTORE Act. Adding this to the $800 million from Transocean and $128 million from Anadarko, a total of $5.328 billion will flow through RESTORE.

    Recent Developments

  • In November 2015, the court determined that Anadarko was liable for $159.5 million in Clean Water Act civil penalties ($127.6 million will flow through RESTORE)

  • In December 2015, the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) released its final rule related to "the investment and use of amounts deposited in the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund." The rule became effective on February 12, 2016.

  • POT 1 (Direct Component)

    General Overview

    35% of RESTORE Act funds will go to the Gulf states in equal amounts (in Florida, funds go directly to impacted counties; in Louisiana, a portion of funds go directly to coastal parishes). States and local governments must complete a multi-year implementation plan before receiving funds. In Louisiana, parishes must also certify that they have "completed a comprehensive land use plan that is consistent with, or complementary to, the [Louisiana Coastal Master Plan]."

    Status

    The states, FL counties, and LA parishes are drafting their multi-year implementation plans. There is no deadline for completing the plans.

    Recent Developments

  • As of June 2016, Treasury had accepted 13 multi-year implementation plans: two state plans (Louisiana, Mississippi), six Louisiana parishes’ plans, and five Florida counties’ plans.

  • In April 2016, Tangipahoa Parish was awarded the first Pot 1 project grant: $558 K for a public boat launch.

  • Texas has announced that it expects to release its draft multi-year implementation plan in late August 2016.

  • POT 2 (Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council)

    General Overview

    30% of RESTORE Act funds plus 50% of the interest will go to a Gulf-wide council, which is to use the funds "to carry out" a science-based plan "to restore and protect" Gulf natural resources.

    Status

    The Council approved its Initial Comprehensive Plan in August 2013. The plan did not include a priority list of projects to be funded (the “Funded Priorities List”) or a description of how funds will be spent over the next 10 years (the “Ten-Year Funding Strategy”). The Council approved its first Funded Priorities List in December 2015.

    Recent Developments

  • In December 2015, the Council approved its Initial Funded Priorities List, which funds roughly $160 million of projects and programs.

  • In April 2016, the Council held three webinars "to identify what worked and what could be improved" in the Funded Priorities List development process.

  • On June 7, 2016, the Council proposed "to amend its Initial Funded Priorities List...to approve implementation funding for the Apalachicola Bay Oyster Restoration project in Florida." The comment deadline is July 7, 2016.

  • POT 3 (Spill Impact Component)

    General Overview

    30% of RESTORE Act funds will be divided among the Gulf states according to how severely they were impacted by the spill. The Council administers this pot of funding. States must complete State Expenditure Plans, which must be approved by the Council, before receiving funds.

    Status

    States are drafting expenditure plans. There is no deadline for completing these plans.

    Recent Developments

  • In December 2015, the Council approved a rule that allocates Pot 3 funds among the five Gulf states. It became effective on April 12, 2016.

  • In May 2016, the Council released a Notice of Funding Availability for Pot 3 project grants.

  • POT 4 (NOAA Science Program)

    General Overview

    2.5% of RESTORE Act funds plus 25% of the interest will go to a NOAA-led program that funds "research, observation, and monitoring to support...the long-term sustainability of" Gulf ecosystems and fisheries.

    Status

    In May 2015, NOAA published its final Science Plan, which “lays out the path forward for the [p]rogram.” The program has already awarded some funding.

    Recent Developments

  • In September 2015, the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program announced its first award of funding: $2.7 million to seven projects.

  • In June 2016, the program announced a new funding opportunity, "focused on living coastal and marine resources and their habitats." The deadline for letters of intent is July 8, 2016, with full proposals due Sept. 27, 2016.

  • POT 5 (Centers of Excellence)

    General Overview

    2.5% of RESTORE Act funds plus 25% of the interest will go to the Gulf states in equal amounts "to establish centers of excellence to conduct research...on the Gulf Coast Region..."

    Status

    All of the Gulf states have selected their Centers of Excellence.

    Recent Developments

  • The Florida Institute of Oceanography is tasked with carrying out the Centers of Excellence program in that state. On March 16, 2016, it released its second Request for Proposals. Proposals were due June 3, 2016.

  • On Jan. 16, 2015, TX announced that it had selected “two consortia to establish Centers of Excellence.” The first consortium is being led by the University of Houston, and the second is being led by Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi. In July 2015, Treasury announced it had awarded a grant of over $4 million to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to establish the two centers.

  • In October 2015, Treasury awarded a grant of over $4 million to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) to establish its Center of Excellence (The Water Institute of the Gulf was selected as Louisiana’s center of excellence in 2014).

  • In October 2015, Mississippi announced that it had selected the Mississippi Based RESTORE Act Center of Excellence (MBRACE) as Mississippi’s center of excellence.

  • In December 2015, the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council (AGCRC) selected the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium as Alabama’s center of excellence.

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    National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)

    General Overview

    As part of the criminal settlements that BP and Transocean reached with the federal government, NFWF (a non-profit conservation organization) will receive a total of $2.544 billion over a five-year period (from 2013 to 2018). The money will be deposited into the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund

    Status

    To date, NFWF has approved 75 projects, costing approximately $500 million.

    Recent Developments

    On Nov. 10, 2015, NFWF announced the latest round of projects, including:

  • Alabama: 5 projects totaling ~$21 million

  • Florida: 5 projects totaling ~$15 million

  • Mississippi: 4 projects totaling ~$30 million

  • Texas: 8 projects totaling ~$14 million

  • On March 10, 2016, NFWF announced it would fund two more projects - one in Alabama and the other in Mississippi.

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