Impacts and Restoration



The Commission made 7 recommendations on improving the ability of government to monitor the impacts of oil spills and undertake restoration efforts to offset the damages they cause.


The Coast Guard, through the Federal On-Scene Coordinator, should provide scientists with timely access to the response zone so that they can conduct independent scientific research during an oil spill response and long-term monitoring in the future.  The National Science Foundation should expand its ability to provide expedited funding for such research.


The Trustees for Natural Resources should ensure that compensatory restoration under the Natural Resources Damages Assessment process is transparent and appropriate.


EPA, by amending the National Contingency Plan, should develop distinct plans and procedures to address and monitor human health impacts during a Spill of National Significance.


Congress, federal agencies, and “responsible parties” should take steps to restore consumer confidence in the aftermath of a “Spill of National Significance.”


Congress should dedicate 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties to long-term restoration of the Gulf of Mexico.  To coordinate Gulf restoration and administer restoration funds, Congress should establish a joint state-federal Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.  The Council should be given authority to set priorities to govern the expenditure of funds and resolve any conflicts regarding eligibility of projects.  Congress should ensure that the priorities and decisions of the Council are informed by input from a Citizens Advisory Council, which represents diverse stakeholders.  In addition, Congress should establish and fund a Gulf Coast Restoration Science and Technology Program to support the design of scientifically sound restoration projects and evaluate individual projects for technical feasibility and consistency with the region-wide strategy.


Agencies, including EPA, the Department of the Interior, and NOAA, and the Trustees for Natural Resources should better balance the myriad economic and environmental interests concentrated in the Gulf region and present in other areas of the Outer Continental Shelf.  The agencies should undertake improved monitoring and increase their use of sophisticated tools like coastal and marine spatial planning.


The Department of Justice’s Office of Dispute Resolution should conduct an evaluation of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility once all claims have been paid out, in order to inform claims processes in future “Spills of National Significance.”