main content
National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Engineering
Institute of Medicine
National Research Council
 


Logo - Gulf Research Program:  Innovate, Eductate, Collaborate

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon explosion and fire caused the release of approximately 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The oil spill was the largest in U.S. history and it caused significant impacts on the Gulf environment and people. As part of legal settlements with the companies involved, the federal government asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to establish a new 30-year research program focused on human health, environmental protection and oil system safety in the Gulf region.
 

What is the purpose of the program?

 

Gulf CoastThe agreements negotiated by the Department of Justice call for NAS to establish a new research program focused on “human health and environmental protection in the Gulf of Mexico and on the United States’ outer continental shelf, including issues relating to offshore oil drilling and hydrocarbon production and transportation.” The settlement agreement identifies three program objectives:
 

  • environmental monitoring
  • research and development
  • education and training

The NAS-NAE-IOM-NRC Gulf Research Program will carry out studies, projects, and other activities that take advantage of the nation's scientific, engineering, and health communities. Activities are to be “determined solely by NAS” and “selected based on scientific merit and integrity, with emphasis on freedom of inquiry and independent nonpartisan advice and recommendations.”
 

How will the program operate?

 

The first step is careful planning to determine the program's strategic focus -- what will we do to fulfill our assigned mission and have lasting impact? Program planning is led by an Advisory Group charged to think carefully about vision, mission, and objectives and write a strategic plan that guides the program's initial activities. The Advisory Group is hosting a series of meetings to interact with agencies, universities, and organizations at the federal and state levels who are also involved in post-Deepwater Horizon science in the Gulf Coast region and develop an understanding of existing activities and perceived needs. The strategic plan will be available in spring 2014.


 

How much money will the program manage and over what time span?

 

The program will total $500 million ($350M from BP and $150M from Transocean). The funds will be received over 5 years and must be disbursed within 30 years. The 30-year time horizon presents an extraordinary opportunity to use science and technology to tackle large, complex issues at the regional scale.


 

What are key elements of the program?

 

Some initial guiding principles for the program are:

  • Science-based
  • Forward-looking
  • Focused on long-term opportunities
  • Transparent, with an open planning process that engages a range of stakeholders interested in Gulf region science, health, and engineering
  • Strategic, with a focus on achieving lasting impact

What is the geographic focus of the program?

 

Program activities will focus on the Gulf of Mexico and other U.S. outer continental shelf regions where human communities, ecosystems, and energy production co-exist. Work that transfers knowledge to or from other places in the United States or other nations is included in the mandate.
 

Who is involved?

 

Program planning is led by an appointed Advisory Group. Oversight is provided by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council, known collectively as “The National Academies.” We are a private, non-profit organization chartered by Congress in 1863 to provide independent, expert advice to the nation. Activities will involve scientists, engineers, health experts, educators, and others from throughout the United States, the Gulf region, and relevant other countries in a variety of ways.

 

Related Reports From NAS, NAE, IOM, and NRC


Book Cover: An Ecosystem Services Approach to Assessing the Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of MexicoAn Ecosystem Services Approach to Assessing the Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico (2013)

Book Cover: Best Available and Safest Technologies for Offshore Oil and Gas Operations: Options for ImplementationBest Available and Safest Technologies for Offshore Oil and Gas Operations: Options for Implementation (2013)

 

 

Book Cover: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Offshore Safety and Environmental Management SystemsEvaluating the Effectiveness of Offshore Safety and Environmental Management Systems (2012)

Book Cover: Macondo Well-Deepwater Horizon Blowout: Lessons for Offshore Drilling SafetyMacondo Well-Deepwater Horizon Blowout: Lessons for Offshore Drilling Safety (2011)

Book Cover: Effectiveness of Safety and Environmental Management Systems for Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Operations: Interim ReportEffectiveness of Safety and Environmental Management Systems for Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Operations: Interim Report (2011)

Book Cover: Approaches for Ecosystem Services Valuation for the Gulf of Mexico After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Interim ReportApproaches for Ecosystem Services Valuation for the Gulf of Mexico After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Interim Report (2011)

Interim Report on Causes of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Blowout and Ways to Prevent Such Events Interim Report on Causes of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Blowout and Ways to Prevent Such Events (2010)

Book CoverResearch Priorities for Assessing Health Effects from the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: A Letter Report (2010)

Book Cover: Review of the Proposal for the Gulf Long-Term Follow-Up Study: Highlights from the September 2010 WorkshopReview of the Proposal for the Gulf Long-Term Follow-Up Study: Highlights from the September 2010 Workshop (2010)

Book Cover: Assessing the Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill on Human Health: A Summary of the June 2010 WorkshopAssessing the Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill on Human Health: A Summary of the June 2010 Workshop (2010)