Earlier today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a subcommittee level hearing on the status of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). Chaired by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the hearing determined whether recovery efforts to date are meeting the requirements of the NRDA.
The Subcommittee discussion focused on an agreement between the Natural Resources Trustees for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and British Petroleum (BP) which will provide $1 billion toward early restoration projects in the Gulf Coast.
The first panel included remarks by representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA on NRDA's management process. Questions from Senators centered on a timetable when the process would be complete.
The representatives did not give any definite answers but Tony Penn noted that studies are scheduled next year and added that there will be a court case a few years after that time.
The second panel included two representatives from the affected states and National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill member Donald Boesch. This panel has a representative from the NRDA. He talked about the process and how trustees are moving forward.
Numerous panelists mentioned the problem of funding. While all panelists noted that BP has stepped up to the plate, but for all practical purposes acknowledged that BP is the only source of funding for studies.
Panelists also talked about the need for more baseline studies on U.S. coastal waters so there is a basic level of knowledge about a region before an incident.
The agreement is BP's first step in meeting its obligation to restore the public resources damaged by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The funds will be used to rebuild and restore beaches, marshes and wildlife habitats.