GoMRI Research Program Overview:
- Shortly after the DWH tragedy, BP announced a commitment of up to $500 million over ten years to fund an independent research program designed to study the impact of the oil spill on the environment and public health in the Gulf of Mexico. Learn more about the history of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).
- The independent scientific research will be conducted at academic institutions primarily in the U.S. Gulf Coast states. However, appropriate partnerships with institutions based outside the U.S. Gulf region will be welcome.
- Funding will be for sampling, modeling and studies, not for acquisition of infrastructure or construction of infrastructure such as ships or laboratories.
- Funds will be distributed using the practice of merit review by peer evaluation as described in the 2005 Report of the National Science Board (NSB-05-119).
- Individual researchers will comply with professional standards as laid out in the National Academy of Sciences Publication – On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research (2009).
- All GoMRI-funded research is independent of BP, and the results will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals with no requirement for BP approval.
- The GOMRI is completely separate from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process, which is a legal process conducted by federal and state trustees to determine injuries to or lost use of the public's natural resources as a result of the oil spill.
- The research will address one or more of the five GoMRI Research Themes developed to address science gaps and research needs identified through several public meetings in the summer of 2010.
- Physical distribution, dispersion, and dilution of petroleum (oil and gas), its constituents, and associated contaminants (e.g., dispersants) under the action of physical oceanographic processes, air sea interactions, and tropical storms.
- Chemical evolution and biological degradation of the petroleum/dispersant systems and subsequent interaction with coastal, open-ocean, and deep-water ecosystems.
- Environmental effects of the petroleum/dispersant system on the sea floor, water column, coastal waters, beach sediments, wetlands, marshes, and organisms; and the science of ecosystem recovery.
- Technology developments for improved response, mitigation, detection, characterization, and remediation associated with oil spills and gas releases.
- Impact of oil spills on public health including behavioral, socioeconomic, environmental risk assessment, community capacity and other population health considerations and issues.
Development of Research Themes:
Since the DWH spill in April 2010, the oceanographic and environmental communities have strongly advocated the importance of research in the Gulf of Mexico and the affected Gulf States for characterization of the event, elucidation of the processes affecting the oil/dispersant system, and assessment of the long-term impact. Numerous discussions and three important meetings open to public participation were held to define the GoMRI intellectual themes.
The first meeting was convened by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on 19 May 2010 in Washington, DC and was hosted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The meeting included approximately 40 leaders from major ocean research institutions, with strong representation from Gulf Coast States.
The second meeting was held on 3 June 2010 at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA and was co-sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. This meeting included about 200 researchers representing the major oceanographic institutions and academic departments in the United States, including representatives from all of the affected Gulf States. The meeting was convened to address both short-term response actions and long-term monitoring and understanding of environmental impacts.
The third meeting was held 22-23 June 2010 at New Orleans, LA and was sponsored by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science. Over 300 participants attended the workshop, including representatives from all of the affected Gulf Coast States. The meeting was convened to address public health impacts and responses to them in the short- and long-term, including monitoring and surveillance of potentially affected populations.
The GoMRI Research Board also convened a Public Health Workshop on July 30,2013 to inform the GoMRI Research Board of ongoing research and potential future directions for investment related to public health impacts of oil spills with emphasis on the Deepwater Horizon event. As a result of this meeting, the wording of Theme 5 has been updated to be more encompassing of what the GoMRI Research Board hopes to accomplish in the public health arena.
The output from these meetings is the basis for the major research themes to be addressed in future request for proposals.