Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies
Winter 2012 newsletter
Director's Corner
 Director's Corner
   HRI leadership focused on Gulf oil spill recovery

by Dr. Larry McKinney, Executive Director

It is difficult to believe that we are fast approaching the second anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon Blowout on April 20, 2012. HRI Chairs remain heavily involved with the aftermath of that incident.

Much of the emphasis today is related to the trial that was to officially start by the first of March but is delayed while settlement negotiations are underway. At the penning of this Director's Corner (March 1) the discussion is all about settlement, so by the time you read this it could be substantially resolved. Dr. Larry McKinneyI am not holding my breath as to the realistic possibilities of a comprehensive settlement, but it is possible that the federal claims, both NRDA and Clean Water Act fines, may be resolved. There are a number of parallel resolution efforts ongoing. I have been focused on the RESTORE bill (Read PDF) now before Congress. The good news is that action has moved the bill as an amendment through the House, and it is now being considered by the Senate. A Florida Independent News report provides a good summary of the status as of March 2.

Several provisions are important to those of us interested in the Gulf of Mexico. HRI is a founding and lead member of the Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative (GOMURC), and we recently sent a message to congressional members about RESTORE. (See message in box at right.)

The next several months will likely be critical in setting the foundations for research and restoration activities in the Gulf of Mexico. HRI will be playing a lead role in those efforts. All of us at HRI and those that call the Gulf of Mexico home are keeping our fingers crossed that the resolution of this horrific event will help put the Gulf on a positive course towards a healthy and productive Gulf. If given the opportunity, I am confident we can make that a reality.

Support the RESTORE bill
GOMURC's message to Congress

On behalf of the Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative (GOMURC), we write to express support for passage of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economy (RESTORE) of the Gulf Coast Act of 2011 (S1400, HR3096). We believe the Act needs to pass, as approved by Senate and House Committees, as soon as possible. This directs Clean Water Act penalties to the people and ecosystems impacted by the spill.

GOMURC represents the majority of university marine science programs in the Gulf region, including sixty-two institutions and over a hundred programs that dedicated resources in the BP spill response effort. These capabilities were critical in the response effort and are now actively engaged in restoration science and preparing for future events. As approved by both the House and Senate committees, 80% of the Clean Water Act penalty funds will be dedicated to restoring Gulf businesses, jobs, and environmental resources, and establish required monitoring and research programs that enable commerce, conservation, and preparation for future natural or human-induced events. These activities must engage universities in the Gulf states, including students, and offer opportunities for building university collaborations and leveraging of assets.

Again, on behalf of the sixty-two member universities, GOMURC fully supports the RESTORE ACT as currently written. We offer the resources of GOMURC to you and your staff, for example, for providing information, testimony, or meeting with Congressional Coalitions or other interested parties. We appreciate everything you and your staff have accomplished thus far and look forward to working with you in passing this very important piece of legislation.

    2012 Harte Research Institute