On April 20, 2011, the Deepwater Horizon incident began the largest marine oil spill in history. The incident claimed 11 lives and oil spilled for three months before the well was capped. On July 2, 2015, BP Plc announced an agreement in principle to settle the disaster. The Department of Justice issued a Consent Decree on April 4, 2016 resolving the civil claims. Restoration related to the oil spill continues today.

Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker

The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) Project Tracker is a centralized directory of projects funded as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It is the most comprehensive picture of the location, type, cost, funding sources, and scope of Gulf of Mexico oil spill-related recovery, restoration, and research projects. Each project snapshot includes a brief project description, a point of contact, and a link to access detailed project information.

Research

NOAA RESTORE Science Program

Under Section 1604 of the RESTORE Act, 2.5% of the Clean Water Act fines are dedicated to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observations, Monitoring, and Technology Program (a.k.a.: NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program). Comprehensive information related to this program, including the science plan, funding opportunities, announcements, and other information are on the NOAA RESTORE Science Program website. A Science Program Framework is available that communicates NOAA’s intent, purpose, and rationale for how it will execute the program according to its responsibilities under the RESTORE Act.

Current information on funded programs is available through the RESTORE Science Program website.

12.07.20 – Full Proposals Due Dec. 15 for Competition on Planning Actionable Science

11.20.20 – Full Proposals Due Dec. 15 for Competition on Planning Actionable Science

11.18.20 – Announcing the Gulf of Mexico Conference 2021

11.12.20 – Webinar on Scoping and Design of Actionable Science

10.15.20 – What made Hurricanes Michael, Laura, and Sally so strong?

Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance managed the operational and non-scientific aspects associated with the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). It included proposal planning and preparation, administering research grants, implementing research database, budget and financial reporting, website management, and program communications and outreach. Now approaching nearly ten years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the GoMRI Research Board is developing a comprehensive scientific synthesis of what they have learned.

Comprehensive GoMRI information is on gulfresearchinitiative.org.

National Academy of Sciences’ Gulf Research Program

As part of the legal settlements with companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the National Academy of Sciences established a 30-year research program focused on the human health, environmental protection, and oil system safety in the Gulf of Mexico. An appointed Advisory Group released, “Gulf Research Program: A Strategic Vision.” The 2020-2024 Strategic Plan is available. Updated funding opportunities are planned regularly.

Information about the NAS Gulf Research Program is on the program their website.

3.8.21- Understanding Gulf Ocean Systems (UGOS) initiative third round of funding is now open. To apply for UOGS-3, you must submit a required Letter of Intent by 5:00 pm ET on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.

1.11.21- Register today for Emerging Scientalks: Understanding Impacts of Neighborhood Flooding: A case of the Pensacola Bay on Thursday, Jan 21, 2021, 12:00 pm-1:00 pm CST.

12.15.20 – National Academies’ Gulf Research Program Opens Applications for 2021 Science Policy Fellowship.

12.11.20 – Gulf Research Program’s 2021 Early-Career Research Fellowship Program Introduces New Track on Health Equity

11.24.20 – The Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced grant awards totaling $5.27 million for six new projects.

09.24.20 – Register today for The Committee Meeting #2: Long-Term Environmental Trends in the Gulf of Mexico September 29, 2020, 12:30-2:15 PM ET.

Research Centers of Excellence

By Jennifer McGee

Under Section 1605 of the RESTORE Act, 2.5% of the Clean Water Act fines levied for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are contributed to the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund, and dedicated to Research Centers of Excellence in each of the five Gulf States. All states have determined their centers.

3.8.21- RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana (LA-COE) Request for Proposals – Cycle 2 (RFP2). Letter of Intent Deadline extended to March 12, 2021. More info here

1.11.21- Save the date: webinar– The Louisiana-Netherlands Partnership in Coastal Protection, Restoration, and Adaptation on Jan 14, 2021.

12.18.20 – Save the date: RFP 2 The RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana Anticipated for February 2021.

11.24.20 – The Water Institute of the Gulf and the University of New Orleans formalized their collaborative relationship through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.

08.19.20 – Water Institute of the Gulf to help state quantify carbon sequestration potential of coastal restoration projects.

08.17.20 – On August 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Treasury awarded Grant II for the Texas Centers of Excellence in the amount of $3.5 million.

Natural Resource Damage Assessment
NRDA

By Carla Swallow

NRDA is comprised of Co-Trustees that include five Federal agencies (Department of Commerce – NOAA, Department of the Interior, Department of Defense, EPA and Department of Agriculture) and the five Gulf States (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas).

The State and Federal Trustees completed a restoration scoping process for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The process allowed the NRDA Trustees to take a comprehensive look at the types of restoration required to offset potential impacts from the spill on habitat, fish, wildlife, and human use of those resources. The Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (PDARP) and Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) is the restoration plan guiding the Trustees. The restoration plan established restoration areas that have a Trustee Implementation Group (TIG) that comprises state agency and federal agency representatives. The active restoration TIGs are for Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Region-wide, and Open Ocean.

Phases I, II, III, IV, and V of Early Restoration have funded projects. Comprehensive Gulf NRDA information is available on www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov. Each TIG has a dedicated section on the site. An interactive map summarizes current projects.

3.8.21- Florida Trustees seek public comment on draft restoration plan through March 29th, 2021. A public webinar will be held on March 11th, 2021. To submit comments and register for the webinar, please click here.

1.5.21- The Florida Trustee Implementation Group held its public meeting via interactive webinar on Dec 8, 2020. Materials from the webinar are now available

12.18.20 – On December 9 construction began on North Breton Island, Louisiana with the first cubic yards of dredged sand placed on the island. The long awaited project was approved in 2014 as one of the three components of the Deepwater Horizon Louisiana Outer Coast Project.

12.10.20 – Alabama Trustees Invite Public Comment on Draft Addendum to Restoration Plan III.

11.23.20 – The Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group released the Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment #7: Wetlands, Coastal, and Nearshore Habitats, and Birds.

11.19.20 – Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama, received a 2020 Phoenix Award from the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).

11.17.20 – The Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group held its annual public meeting via an interactive webinar on November 5, 2020 and those materials are now available.

11.16.20 – The Florida Trustee Implementation Group will hold its annual public meeting via a webinar on December 8, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

11.12.20 – The Regionwide Trustee Implementation Group is set to begin collecting information that will help restore bird populations injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill across the northern Gulf of Mexico.

10.30.20 – The Mississippi Trustee Implementation Group is beginning the process of restoration planning for our Restoration Plan III and would like your input regarding natural resource restoration project ideas in the Mississippi Restoration Area through November 30, 2020.

10.13.20 – On behalf of the Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group, NOAA has announced a partnership agreement with the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission to restore recreational fish species impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

10.08.20 – The Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group will hold its annual public meeting via an interactive webinar on November 5, 2020.

10.06.20 – The Texas Trustee Implementation Group for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill will hold its 2020 annual public meeting on November 4, 2020 via an online video presentation.

10.01.20 – Submit your Ideas for Texas Restoration Area Planning

RESTORE Act

On July 2012, the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) passed into law. The Act established a new Trust Fund in the Treasury of the United States, known as the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. It received 80% of the civil penalties paid after July 6, 2012, under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Under the Act, amounts in the Trust Fund are available for programs, projects, and activities that restore and protect the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast region.

Much anticipated U.S. Treasury Department rules were released August 13, 2014. On December 14, 2015, Treasury published the Final Rule in the Federal Register. It became effective on February 12, 2016. The Final Rule allows for Gulf Coast states and municipalities to receive funding for environmental restoration and economic development projects. The Final Rule outlines grant programs for Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas that established by the RESTORE Act.

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council

Section 1603 of the RESTORE Act established the Council, which comprises of the Governors of the five Gulf Coast States and Cabinet-level officials from six federal agencies. The Council receives 30% of the RESTORE Act Trust Funds and often refers to these as “Bucket 2”. The final comprehensive plan, “Restoring the Gulf Coast’s Ecosystem & Economy,” addresses actions needed for the Gulf region. On December 9, 2015, the Council voted on the Initial Funded Priorities List, and they approved the regulation for the Spill Impact Component. This regulation established a formula to allocate funds among the Gulf States.

In September 2016, the Council released a Comprehensive Plan Update. The updates address recent developments in Gulf restoration such as the resolution of civil claims against BP for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a source of future funding for the Council’s projects. They also captured important public input and lessons learned from the process of developing and approving its initial Funded Priorities List (FPL). Restoration activities funded through the RESTORE Act, and positions the Council made for the most effective use of funds, were initiated in 2017 and continue. Annual reports to Congress are available up through 2018. Complete information is available on RestoreTheGulf.gov.

2.11.21- CRPA receives $26.7M RESTORE Act Grant for phase one construction of the Houma Navigation Canal Lock Complex

12.02.20 – CPRA Receives over $1M from RESTORE Council for Planning Efforts.

11.16.20 – The RESTORE Council staff are holding a public review and comment period for the Draft Funded Priorities List 3b.

11.16.20 – The RESTORE Council staff is releasing the draft Funded Priorities List (FPL) 3b for a 50-day public review and comment period that will conclude at 11:59 pm MT on January 5, 2021.

09.01.20 – The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has received four grant awards from the U.S. Department of Treasury in association with projects included in the Texas Bkt 1 accepted Multi-Year Implementation Plan (MIP).

08.25.20 – On July 30, 2020, the Council Chair, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, approved the Texas State Expenditure Plan (SEP) Amendment #1.

By Jonathan Veach

Gulf States

In addition to being members of the Restoration Council, the five Gulf States will receive individual portions of the RESTORE Act Trust Funds. Section 1601 of the RESTORE Act evenly divides 35% of the Trust Funds among the five Gulf States, while Section 1602 distributes 30% of the Trust Funds to the Gulf States based on a damage and population formula. Each state is approaching comprehensive restoration and recovery efforts differently.

Alabama: The Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council (AGCRC) is a 10-member council comprised of state and local officials, created with the passage of the RESTORE Act in 2012. The AGCRC adopted a Strategy Map and tapped the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) to serve as administrator. For additional information on the AGCRC, visit restorealabama.org. To learn about other state-specific restoration activities, including NRDA, NFWF, and AGCRC, visit www.alabamacoastalrestoration.org. The AGCRC approved the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium (Dauphin Island Sea Lab) as the State’s Center of Excellence on December 4, 2015. The center will be called the Alabama Center of Excellence or ACE. The state has 29 approved projects, and a map of projects is available.

Mississippi: The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) developed GoCoast 2020 with vast stakeholder input. GoCoast 2020 provided recommendations for restoration initiatives. MDEQ maintains a project submission portal, a story map of approved projects, and other pertinent information on their website. The Mississippi Based RESTORE Act Center of Excellence (MBRACE) was chosen as the Mississippi Center of Excellence.

Florida: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the lead agency for responding to impacts and the resulting restoration process. The FDEP maintains a website complete with resources, links, and newsletters, including an overview of Florida’s response to the oil spill. Each impacted county will engage directly with their communities through the Gulf Consortium and the Florida Association of Counties. Some counties have dedicated web pages or sites – find yours. An online map tool is available to search all Florida proposed projects. The Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) is responsible for FLRACEP, the Florida RESTORE Act Centers of Excellence Program.

Louisiana: The State of Louisiana is represented on the RESTORE Council by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and conducts restoration according to the CPRA Coastal Master Plan. It bases analysis by involving some of the state’s best scientists as well as national and international specialists. Information on Louisiana’s restoration efforts is found by visiting CPRA’s site. The Water Institute of the Gulf is the RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana.

Texas: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality leads the state on oil spill-related restoration and manages the site Restore the Texas Coast. Two Consortia are Centers of Excellence in Texas – the University of Houston: Subsea Systems Institute; and Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi: Texas OneGulf. The Texas State Expenditure Plan (SEP) was approved by the RESTORE Council in March 2019.

1.11.21- Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality IFB for Wolf River Living Shoreline & Subtidal Reef Construction. Sealed bids will be received until 11:00 am CT on Jan 19, 2021.

December – SEP Amendment #3 Open for Public Comment.

12.10.20 – CPRA Announces Public Comment Period for Draft Second Amended RESTORE Act Multiyear Implementation Plan.

11.19.20 – Governor Kay Ivey announced today that the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) recently awarded nearly $26 million from its Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF) to four new projects in the state of Alabama.

11.18.20 – The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) has been approved for $1.036M in Council-Selected Restoration Component planning grants from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council’s (RESTORE Council) 2017 Comprehensive Plan Commitment and Planning Support Funded Priorities List (FPL).

11.11.20 – On November 10, 2020 the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality hosted the 2020, “Virtual” Restoration Summit.

10.22.20 – Request for Proposals Issued for the Stewardship of Coastal Alabama Beach Nesting Bird Habitat Project

10.05.20 – ‘Only way to describe them is massive’: Two BP-funded coastal restoration projects get underway

10.01.20 – $215M in BP oil spill money to restore Louisiana marshes

National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
NFWF

As part of the criminal plea agreements with companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) established the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund for projects benefiting the natural resources of the Gulf Coast that were impacted by the spill. NFWF works in conjunction with the Gulf States to identify projects that will remedy harm and eliminate or reduce future harm to natural resources. Projects were awarded as recently as November 2019. For complete information go to NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund.

11.19.20 – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced its final funding obligations from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF) for projects in the state of Texas, bringing its total awards from the fund to more than $203 million. Today’s announcement caps 10 years of restoration funding undertaken by NFWF to support projects in Texas following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy.

11.19.20 – NFWF Approves more than $71 million for new restoration projects on the Gulf Coast.

11.18.20 – NFWF releases Improving Fisheries Conservation and Management in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico – results from five years of investments in fisheries monitoring and technology.

05.20.20 – The Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Assessment (ABIRA) Final Report is now available on the ABIRA website and can be viewed by clicking on the following link: https://gom.usgs.gov/DauphinIsland/Reports.aspx.

03.19.20 – NFWF Announced two additional projects in Alabama. Nearly $16 million in new Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund awards will improve water quality in Weeks Bay and restore coastal marsh habitat in Mobile County.

03.19.20 – NFWF Announced an additional project in Florida for the Franklin County Living Shoreline.

National American Wetlands Conservation Act Fund

As part of the criminal plea agreement involving the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the National American Wetlands Conservation Act Fund is receiving $100,000,000 for wetlands restoration and conservation benefiting migratory bird species and other wildlife affected by the oil spill. More information is on the NAWCA’s Gulf Restoration site.

08.05.20 – In defense for our shorelines, the natural way

06.24.20 – Gulf of Mexico Restoration Benefits Wetlands and Recreation

06.02.20 – Gateway to Weeks Bay conserved for future generations

05.28.20 – Secretary Bernhardt Announces $160 Million in Funding for Wetland Conservation Projects and National Wildlife Refuges