BP Funding for Gulf Restoration

One year after oil started gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, British Petroleum (BP) has finally announced it will provide a $ 1 billion down payment toward a Natural Resource Damage Assessment of the Gulf, an important first step in restoring the devastated region, reports The Nature Conservancy.

oiled cormorantThis announcement couldn’t come soon enough. As recently as April 13 Audubon experts were reporting that tar balls could still be found on beaches in Louisiana and oil was still “oozing through marsh grasses.” The continuing mess and contamination puts breeding birds at risk. Melanie Driscoll, Audubon’s Director of Bird Conservation for the Gulf expressed her concerns in a recent press release that as a new breeding season begins, there is still a lot of oil in places where many species of birds nest and feed. Food sources are also impacted by the oil, and birds could go hungry if fish, marine worms, oysters, shrimp and crab are less available.

Although pleased with the funding announcement, Chris Dorsett, Director of Gulf Restoration for Ocean Conservancy also cautioned that this was just the first step of many on a long road to complete restoration, remarking in an OC press release that, “full restoration requires a comprehensive understanding of injuries from the BP Deepwater Horizon, an effort that is still underway. Only through a thorough Natural Resource Damage Assessment can we ensure the health of the Gulf and its communities is fully restored.”

Ocean Conservancy is now calling on BP and the federal government to, “Establish a long term research and monitoring program to determine impacts and measure the recovery and health of the Gulf so that restoration dollars are spent effectively; and ensure that restoration projects result in the full recovery of the Gulf ecosystem.”

For those living in coastal communities throughout the Gulf region for whom the wait for action has no doubt been frustrating, maybe with this funding announcement they can now start looking forward to repairing both their ecosystem and economies.

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Alison Wheatley

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