10 Years After Deepwater Horizon, The Gulf Is ‘Bouncing Forward’ But Not Recovered

Money that was set aside after the oil spill has been spent to revitalize the region’s oyster beds, along with other projects.

By Michael MarksApril 22, 2020 12:09 pm, ,

Ten years ago this week, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster led to nearly 5 million barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days.

The environmental impact was significant, but so were the economic consequences. And though a large pool of money was set aside for recovery in the region, Lily Verdone, director of freshwater and marine programs at the Texas chapter of the Nature Conservancy,  told Texas Standard Wednesday that ecosystems aren’t back to normal.

“I think it’s more of a bouncing forward than a rebounding,” Verdone said. “We’re not thinking about how we can bounce back to where we were before, but how we can bounce back to a future that’s more sustainable and resilient for both people and nature.”

Verdone said the Gulf of Mexico is resilient, and that its ecosystem has benefited from work by people who aim to protect it. 

“We’ve been able to take over $20 billion in [Deepwater] Horizon settlement money and invest that back into the Gulf,” she said.

Of the $20 billion, over $16 billion was allocated to the region’s recovery; about 20% has been spent so far. 

“Although this isn’t enough to fix all that is wrong, it’s been invested well and it can really accelerate, and has been accelerating, restoration efforts of the Gulf,” she said.

Oysters are an important species in the Gulf, in ecological terms but also for the region’s economy. Their populations had been declining even before the 2010 spill, Verdone said. Some of the recovery money has been used to help revitalize their habitats, and to supporting the fisheries that harvest them.

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.

Web story by Shelly Brisbin.


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