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Advancing a Comprehensive Approach to Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico

Restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history. NOAA led the natural resource damage assessment restoration planning effort. Through this process, NOAA and a group of three other federal agencies and agencies from the five Gulf states, called the Deepwater Horizon Trustees, assessed the negative effects of the spill. We found impacts to wildlife, habitat, and recreational activities across the entire Gulf. We used this information to determine the amount of restoration required and how much that restoration would cost.

In April 2016, a historic settlement with BP was approved by the federal court presiding over the case. It requires BP to pay up to $8.8 billion dollars to the Trustees for restoration, the largest recovery of damages ever for injuries to natural resources. The settlement includes:

  • $7.1 billion dollars for restoration.
  • $1 billion dollars previously committed for early restoration.
  • $700 million for currently unknown and changing natural resource conditions.

The settlement also approved our programmatic restoration plan, which is based on our thorough assessment of impacts to the Gulf's natural resources. The plan allocates funds from the settlement for restoration over the next 15 years, and addresses the ecosystem-level impacts to the Gulf. It establishes how the Trustees will work together to develop and implement projects.

The plan also establishes restoration areas, including one for each Gulf state, region-wide, and open ocean, which will develop restoration plans with public input. Federal and state trustee agencies are working together as Trustee Implementation Groups in each restoration area. They will plan for and implement restoration projects, based on the funding allocations and decision process laid out in the programmatic plan.

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Last updated by Office of Habitat Conservation on June 10, 2021