BP is refusing a request from the U.S. government to pay for evaluations of the damage caused after the company’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010, reported the Financial Times.
Last July, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration requested $148 million from BP for assessment and restoration planning, according to documents obtained by the Financial Times. The money would have included $10 million for research on the spill’s effect on whales and dolphins, $22 for oysters and $2.2 million for coastal wetlands. However, BP denied most of NOAA’s requests, claiming that the process lacked visibility and accountability.
BP paid billions for clean-up operations and approximately $1 billion for a Natural Resource Damage Assessment, which attempted to identify how the spill degraded natural resources vital to the fishing, tourism and other industries.
Oxford Economics estimated that the BP spill had the potential to cost the tourism industry $22.7 billion over three years, which threatened the livelihoods of 400,000 people working in Gulf tourism. Even years after the spill, storms continued to dredge up oil from the spill and cause fisheries to close, reported the Times-Picayune.
Some hidden damages from the spill include oil and dispersant chemicals that wash over Louisiana’s coast, which may reduce coastal wetlands’ ability to absorb the impact of hurricanes and protect people’s homes and farms.
However, assessing the cost of degraded coasts presents a challenge because of the complexity of the environmental and economic systems involved. For example, no one chooses to receive benefits from mangrove forests, yet many Americans enjoy the seafood, such as shrimp and fish, that rely on mangroves.
Besides seafood, economists and conservationists debate the value of the Gulf region’s animals and plants that aren’t directly sold on the market. In other words, the intrinsic economic value of a crocodile embroidered on a designer shirt is unquestioned. The intrinsic economic value of a crocodile in a swamp is heavily debated.
Photo: Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon on April 21, 2010. (U.S. Coast Guard, Wikimedia Commons)