Assessing Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico

Disruptions to ecosystems could impair services such as energy, tourism, and fisheries, which may lead to economic and social impacts not readily apparent from an assessment of environmental damage alone. A 2011 interim report from the National Research Council introduced the concept of an ecosystem services approach to the assessment of damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, focusing not only on injuries to natural resources but also on changes to the goods and services that people derive from the environment.

The final report uses this approach to assess the spill's effects on coastal wetlands, fisheries, marine mammals, and the deep sea, each of which provide key ecosystem services in the Gulf of Mexico. The congressionally mandated report also addresses technologies used in the spill response, including mechanical recovery, chemical treatments, and shore-based strategies, and evaluates their risks, effectiveness, and impacts on ecosystem services.

DETAILS: Advance copies of An Ecosystem Services Approach to Assessing the Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be available to reporters only beginning at noon Tuesday, July 9. The report is embargoed and not available for public release before 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday, July 10. To obtain a copy, contact the National Academies' Office of News and Public Information; tel. 202-334-2138 or e-mail