BP is refusing to pay for Gulf oil spill research

The company denied government requests for funding meant to assess the spill's environmental impact

Topics: BP, Deepwater Horizon, Gulf Oil Spill, noaa, environmental disaster, dolphins, , ,

Four years after the Deepwater Horizon Explosion, BP is making much of its commitment to clean up the Gulf of Mexico — but it’s refusing to cough up the money needed to determine just how much damage the spill actually caused.

According to documents obtained by the Financial Times, the company denied money to the federal government to fund studies assessing the oil spill’s impact on the Gulf, including its effect on the region’s dolphins, whales and oysters. While the company shelled out over $1 billion for the Natural Resource Damage Assessment, which is “intended to provide a common understanding of the problems of the gulf shared by BP and the U.S. government, so the company knows what it needs to do to meet its legal obligation to put the damage right,” it’s since called the research process into question, denying most of the government’s further requests for funding. FT reports:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a US government agency, wrote to BP last July seeking almost $148m to pay for “injury assessment and restoration planning activities”, including funding of $2.2m for research into the recovery of the coastal wetlands, more than $10m for dolphins and whales and $22m for oysters.

In October, BP replied to the NOAA request rejecting the majority of those requests, saying it was concerned over “the lack of visibility and accountability” in the process, and the unwillingness of the NRDA trustees, which are US federal agencies and coastal state governments, to engage in technical discussions of the substantive issues.

BP said it had paid for work that was not done or done properly, been double-billed for the same study, and not been allowed to see research findings that it had been told would be shared.

Published numbers suggest BP has slowed sharply its spending on the NRDA. By the end of 2012, it had spent $973m, the company said last year, and it now puts its spending to date at “more than $1bn”.



BP has made no secret of its disdain for data linking the oil to sick dolphins, more than 600 of which washed up on Louisiana’s beaches in the two years following the spill. In response to this latest report, the company released a statement saying only that “BP is committed to funding environmental restoration for damage caused by the spill, and a comprehensive scientific assessment of the effects of the spill is the first step in that process.”

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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