On 30 September 2010, BP announced that a $500 million research fund to study the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill would be administered by the governors of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative will fund research over the next 10 years to study the environmental and human health impacts of the spill. Research will be focused in five areas: physical distribution and ultimate fate of contaminants; chemical and biological degradation of the contaminants; environmental impacts and ecosystem recovery; technology developments for oil spill detection, mitigation, and remediation; and human health.

The announcement comes after four months of silence from BP about the fund. The company originally provided $30 million for research at universities in the Gulf region and $10 million in research on human health at the National Institutes of Health. But the Obama Administration slowed distribution of the rest of the funds in June when it directed BP to work with Gulf state governors and other authorities “to design the long-term monitoring program to assure the environmental and public health of the Gulf Region.”

The fund will be managed by a board of scientists from academic institutions, who will be appointed by BP and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, a partnership of the Gulf states. According to a press release from BP, it appears that the funds will be primarily directed to academic institutions in the region, but partnerships with institutions based outside the Gulf will be allowed. BP also made it clear that the results of research funded by the initiative will not be subject to BP approval prior to publication.

In September, AIBS joined other scientific societies to call for the establishment of an independent source of funding for research on the impacts of incidents caused by industry, such as the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The complete statement is available at http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20100915september2010.html.


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