Building Gulf Coast Resilience - Opportunities After Deepwater Horizon

From the Georgetown Climate Center, this report presents recommendations for enhancing Gulf Coast resilience as state and federal agencies implement projects to restore ecosystems affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Over 134 million gallons of crude oil was released into the Gulf of Mexico affecting 1,300 miles of coastline from Texas to Florida. Over the next 15 years, more than $20 billion will flow to the region for projects to restore ecosystems and economies affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. And the success of this grand experiment in coastal restoration will have importance for not only the Gulf Coast region, but also the nation as a whole. The Gulf economy contributes $234 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product and the region is home to biologically and economically important habitats and fisheries. The region has a unique opportunity to both restore spill-affected ecosystems and enhance community resilience to the impacts of climate change. However, implementing the ambitious and innovative portfolio of projects will require improved coordination among state and federal agencies and expedited processes for reviewing and permitting projects. 

In Building Gulf Coast Resilience: Opportunities After Deepwater Horizon, the Climate Center draws lessons from three case studies of other large-scale infrastructure projects where state and federal agencies have overcome challenges and developed innovative approaches to coordination, permitting and environmental review - including the Hurricane Sandy recovery in the New York-New Jersey region, the California WaterFix water delivery project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, and the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program affecting the Colorado River in the American West.

Distilling lessons from these case studies, the report provides recommendations for those who are implementing restoration projects in the Gulf Coast region, identifying opportunities to improve interagency coordination, align funding for complementary restoration projects, speed environmental review and permitting, and develop projects that will enhance community resilience to climate change. 

More detailed summaries of the funding sources supporting Gulf Coast restoration efforts, the laws and policies that will govern implementation of restoration projects, and the actions that states are taking to pursue restoration are included in Appendices accompanying this report.


The Georgetown Climate Center is grateful for generous support from the Walton Family Foundation and the other funders that make our work possible.


Publication Date: August 1, 2018

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