BP oil spill did $17.2 billion in damage to natural resources, scientists find

April 20, 2017
The first-ever comprehensive appraisal of the financial impact on natural resources impacted by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill found that it did $17.2 billion in damage. Credit: US Coast Guard

The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill did $17.2 billion in damage to the natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico, a team of scientists recently found after a six-year study of the impact of the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

This is the first comprehensive appraisal of the financial value of the natural resources damaged by the 134-million-gallon .

"This is proof that our natural resources have an immense monetary value to citizens of the United States who visit the Gulf and to those who simply care that this valuable resource is not damaged," said Kevin Boyle, a professor of agricultural and applied economics in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Science and one of the authors on the paper.

Findings from the study are published in the issue of Science released Friday, April 21.

The scientists developed a survey to put a on the natural resources damaged by the BP Deepwater spill by determining household willingness to pay for measures that would prevent similar damages should a spill of the same magnitude happen in the . Survey information included descriptions of damaged beaches, marshes, animals, fish, and coral.

On top of estimating the impact of the spill, the $17.2 billion represents the benefits to the public to protect against damages that could result from a future oil spill in the Gulf of a similar magnitude.

In May 2010, one month after the spill, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commissioned a group of 18 researchers to put a dollar value on the natural resources damaged by the BP Deepwater spill.

To estimate Gulf Coast resource values, researchers created a scenario in which people were told that they could have a role in mitigating future damages by effectively paying for a prevention program.

Final analysis showed that the average household was willing to pay $153 for a prevention program. This rate was then multiplied by the number of households sampled to get the final valuation of $17.2 billion.

"The results were eye-opening in that we could tell how much people really value marine resources and ecosystems," said Boyle. "And even more meaningful because we did additional analysis that proved the legitimacy of oft-criticized values for environmental resources."

The project team administered surveys to a large random sample of American adults nation-wide after three years of development. The first round of surveys was administered face-to-face with trained interviewers while the remaining surveys were completed via mail.

Survey participants were informed of pre- and post-spill conditions in the Gulf of Mexico and what caused the oil spill. They were then told about a , which can be viewed as 100 percent effective insurance against future spill damages, and that another spill would occur in the next 15 years. With this information, participants were asked to vote for or against the program, which would impose a one-time tax on their household.

"Our estimate can guide policy makers and the oil industry in determining not only how much should be spent on restoration efforts for the Deepwater spill, but also how much should be invested to protect against damages that could result from future ," said Boyle. "People value our natural resources, so it's worth taking major actions to prevent future catastrophes and correct past mistakes."

Explore further: Gulf oil spill research featured in special issue

More information: "Putting a value on injuries to natural assets: The BP oil spill," Science (2017). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.aam8124

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6 comments

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fidh
1 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2017
Now redo the experiment and instead of asking "if" they would accept the one time fee, actually charge the one time fee after they've answered.
Would double as a behavioral study resulting in more research grants and at least one of the studies will be worth a "real dollar".
rrrander
1 / 5 (5) Apr 22, 2017
So what? It was an accident, and BP paid back more than that. What happened to American bankers who destroyed the economy 1993-2008? None went to jail, and the banks were bailed out. And what they did was intentional.
RealScienceMatter
5 / 5 (3) Apr 22, 2017
No antigoracle sock, NOT so what Numbty, The amount of damage done can NEVER be paid back, and this only one instance of countless of "accidents" which ruins out planet ! Not to mention the destruction caused by fossil fuels ! ! ! !
geokstr
1 / 5 (1) Apr 26, 2017
What happened to American bankers who destroyed the economy 1993-2008? None went to jail, and the banks were bailed out. And what they did was intentional.


What they did was respond to incentives offered by the federal government to "spread the real estate wealth" around. In the 1980s, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston did a deeply flawed analysis that "proved" the banking system was RACIST, because by making prudent business decisions about who to make mortgage loans to and in what areas, blacks were "disparately" impacted because they lived in risky areas and usually couldn't make the down payment.

The leftists/Democrats screamed to high heavens, and federal bank auditors demanded that banks start making risky loans in bad areas to people with less than adequate down payments and sketchy employment histories or the banks would find their expansion plans disapproved. (cont)
geokstr
1 / 5 (1) Apr 26, 2017
Over time, since there was no apparent risk because the government kept buying up all these poor loans though Fannie Mae, the poor loan practices expanded to include no down payment, accepting welfare payments, unemployment insurance and food stamps as income became commonplace. Millions of mortgage loans were made to illegal aliens.

It didn't take a gypsy with a crystal ball to see the inevitable crash coming when all the bad loans began to fail in 2008. The left complained that no bankers went to jail, but Franklin Raines, Clinton's budget director, was appointed head of Fannie Mae, and was in charge during the whole debacle. An audit afterwards showed that Fannie Mae had illegally shifted income between years to increase bonuses of which Raines got $90 MILLION. He was punished by having to give back $15 million. How awful for him (boo-hoo) but not a peep from Rep Bahney Fwank, who had prevented an audit of Fannie Mae 3 years before the collapse, nor from any other Democrats.
geokstr
1 / 5 (1) Apr 26, 2017
Fwank insisted Fannie Mae was sound and strong.

Not only Raines became rich, but Clinton had packed the upper mgmt and boards of Fannie and Freddie Mac with Democrat cronies and hacks. His former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel made $2 MILLLION in less than 2 years by attending quarterly board meetings. Jamie Gorelick, who set up the wall between the CIA and the FBI that prevented them from sharing intelligence that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks, was a VP at Fannie and made $20 MILLION.

You'll feel so much better though when I tell you that Obama had the federal bank auditors demanding that banks begin making the same risky loans to minorities with no down payments again.

Yet foolish people like rrrander above will continue to love lefties and hate conservatives out off ignorance or malice or both.

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