BP fine-funded science center seeks comments on research plan

Oct 28, 2016

New Orleans, La. — A new science center funded with BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill fine money announced Thursday that it is  looking for public feedback on its draft plan for research that will support Louisiana's coastal master plan.

The Restore Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana, part of the Baton Rouge-based Water Institute of the Gulf, will receive about $26.7 million for coastal research over 15 years. The federal Restore Act requires that 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines stemming from the Deepwater Horizon disaster be spent largely on coastal restoration or economic projects along the five Gulf Coast states.

In 2014, the state decided to create its center of excellence as part of the Water Institute of the Gulf. Under rules set by the U.S. Department of Treasury, the center must focus its research efforts on four broad categories:

  • Coastal and deltaic sustainability, restoration and protection, including solutions and technology that allow citizens to live in a asafe and sustainable manner in a coastal delta.
  • Coastal fisheries and wildlife ecosystem research and monitoring.
  • Sustainable and resilient growth, economic and commercial development.
  • Comprehensive observation, monitoring and mapping of the Gulf.

The draft research strategy lists seven broad topics where researchers interested in obtaining grants are asked to focus their efforts:

  • Study of the flow of the state's major rivers that will be used in rebuilding wetlands, including studies of the rivers' physical features and the dynamics of how they carry sediments downstream.
  • Coastal and estuarine -- the area where rivers flow into the sea -- ecology, including fisheries, wildlife, vegetation, and the dynamics of nutrients in the water.
  • Geotechnical and structural engineering, with a focus on the best ways to build restoration and storm surge protection features on the land and the impacts of those features on the land, including subsidence.
  • The geology of river deltas, including the way new land is built and how it sinks.
  • Coastal and estuarine hydrology, the movement of water, including their effects on physical features and the dynamics of moving sediment to build wetlands, barrier islands and shorelines.
  • Climate processes, including climate change and storm surges and waves caused by tropical storms and hurricanes.
  • Socioeconomic issues involved in the master plan, including the effects of environmental change on coastal communities, businesses and industries, including fisheries.
  • Regulatory policy issues, including determining what local, state and federal laws and regulations might need to be changed to help implement the master plan or deal with either its effects or the effects of no action.

"Since the research strategy will guide competitive research grants, it is written for a technical audience," said a news release. "In addition, the strategy does not specify geographies or research methods in order to allow researchers to be innovative in their proposed approach."

The strategy was developed by a team in coordination with the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, which oversees the master plan, and a technical working group of researchers in state academic institutions, and with the assistance of participants in a Coastal Research Priorities Town Hall held earlier this year.

The strategy is available below, or can be downloaded in PDF form at The center is accepting feedback on its contents by email at through Nov. 7.