On April 20, 2010, an explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drill rig caused the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The well spewed oil for 87 days and released millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The Department of the Interior responded quickly to the disaster, saving wildlife, documenting injury, and helping with the cleanup.
The Trustees are conducting a natural resource damage assessment. The goal is to return the natural resources injured by the spill to the condition they would have been in if the spill had not occurred. In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Trustees are assessing injuries to natural resources and the lost use of those resources caused by the DWH oil spill.
As one of the 11 Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees, Interior participated in the pre-assessment phase and is now actively involved in ongoing injury assessment and restoration phases.
During a typical NRDA process, injury assessment is completed before restoration projects are developed and implemented. The Trustees have been able to begin restoration earlier in this case because in April 2011, BP agreed to fund up to $1 billion in early restoration projects before the injury assessment is completed.