Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Research Grants Go To 8 Consortia, Including 2 in Louisiana

In the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP pledged to contribute $500 million over 10 years to finance independent scientific research into the effects of the spill. On Tuesday, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Research Board, charged with administering BP’s commitment, announced that eight research consortia will share $112.5 million of that $500 million over the next three years.

(From / by Jonathan Tilove) — According to the board’s announcement, the research group will “investigate the fate of petroleum in the environment, the impacts of the spill, and the development of new tools and technology for responding to future spills and improving mitigation and restoration.” Two of the research groups are being led by Louisiana institutions. The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, with lead investigator Nancy Rabalais, will study “The Effects of the Macondo Oil Spill on Coastal Ecosystems.”

Another consortium led by Tulane University professor Vijay John will look at one of the thorniest questions arising from the spill and response: “The Science and Technology of Dispersants as Relevant to Deep Sea Oil Releases.”

The amount each consortium will receive is still being negotiated with the board.

“These consortia establish a research community of great strength with promise of substantial achievement,” said Rita Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation, who chairs the GoMRI Research Board. “The results will illuminate the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, and enable appropriate responses should there be future releases not only in the Gulf of Mexico, but anywhere that oil and gas is produced in ocean environments. They will also assist local, state and federal agencies in their work to remediate the consequences of the oil spill in coastal and marine environments.”

“The GoMRI received a number of excellent proposals,” Colwell said. “Following a competitive merit review process the Research Board approved funding for eight research consortia. These groups will be funded for the next three years and will then be eligible to apply for additional funding.”

Rep. Edward J. Markey, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, who had called on BP to create the fund, expressed pleasure with Tuesday’s announcement.

“The knowledge gained from these vital scientific projects will be the silver lining to a dark episode for the people of the Gulf of Mexico,” Markey said. “These funds will take a regrettable summer of environmental disaster and turn it into many teachable moments for the policymakers, students and citizens of America.”

“GoMRI In the news” is a reposting of articles about GoMRI-funded research (published by various news outlets).  The author’s interpretations and opinions expressed in these articles is not necessarily that of GoMRI.