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Who Is Involved  
The effect of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill reaches across states, habitats and federal programs. The broad scope of the spill’s impact necessitates coordinated efforts, monitoring and oversight from varying entities. From scientific experts to trustees acting on behalf of the public, below is a list of entities integral to the restoration effort in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.


Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trustee Council

clean up crew in water

Cleanup crews removing submerged oil from Ft Pickens sound side.

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trustee Council is authorized by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA). The council is comprised of federal and state agencies, known as trustees, to evaluate the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on natural resources. The trustees represent the public interest and work together to assess the injury to natural resources and develop plans to restore the injured resources through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process.

DEP serves as the trustee agency for the state of Florida, along with co-trustee agency, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Other trustee agencies include the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and trustees from each of the other affected Gulf States - Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

Technical Working Groups (TWGs)

Technical Working Groups, more commonly referred to as TWGs, were formed by and report to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trustee Council. Each TWG consists of scientific experts in a particular field and are charged with determining the extent of injuries resulting from the spill to wildlife or a specific Gulf ecosystem. TWGs include Birds, Water Column, Fish, Marine Mammals, Sea Turtles, Submerged Aquatic Vegetation, Coral, Shoreline, Terrestrial and Freshwater, Human Use (such as recreational fishing, boating, beach use), Chemistry, Cultural Resources, Data Management and Aerial Imagery.

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force

Great Blue Heron. Photo by Julie Schulz.

Great Blue Heron at the Gulf Islands National Seashore

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force was established by a White House Executive Order on October 5, 2010. The Task Force is responsible for planning and coordinating intergovernmental responsibilities and facilitating the exchange of information to better implement Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration to address the longstanding ecological decline in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Mimi Drew, Special Advisor to DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard, was appointed by President Obama as Florida’s representative for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, along with representatives from each of the Gulf States. Currently, the Task Force is mobilizing scientific experts to proactively counter the longstanding ecological decline experienced by the Gulf of Mexico and is identifying measures to ensure the future health of the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council was established by Congress in the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 in early July 2012. The RESTORE Act outlines a structure by which non-criminal Clean Water Act penalties from the DWH oil spill will be utilized to restore the ecosystem and economies of the Gulf Coast. The RESTORE Act dedicates 80% of all Clean Water Act administrative and civil penalties related to the DWH oil spill to the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund.

The Council will publish a Proposed Comprehensive Plan in January 2013, which shall include and incorporate the findings and information prepared by the President’s Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. An Initial Comprehensive Plan will be released in July 2013. Members of the Council include the Governor or designee from each of the five Gulf States, along with the heads of several federal agencies and departments, including the Secretary of the Department of Commerce, who is the Chairperson of the Council, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Secretary of the Army, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Secretary of Department of Agriculture, and a Director from the Coast Guard.

BP Gulf of Mexico Response

Under OPA, BP, the responsible party, is liable to the public and the environment for damages caused by the oil spill and the cost of removal. The NRDA process gives the Responsible party an option to cooperate with the trustee council to assist with response and restoration instead of pursuing costly litigation. Cooperation with the responsible party allows the trustees to focus on response and restoration efforts.

Gulf Coast Restoration Organization (GCRO)

Mother and baby black skimmer. Photo by Julie Schulz

Mother and baby black skimmer on Pensacola Beach

The Gulf Coast Restoration Organization (GCRO), created and managed by BP, will replace the Gulf Coast Incident Management Team, a group of state, federal and BP personnel responsible for coordinating the oil spill response effort under the U.S. Coast Guard Federal On-Scene Coordinator in New Orleans, Louisiana. GCRO, headquartered in New Orleans, will continue to coordinate with state and federal officials to restore the Gulf of Mexico to its pre-spill status. The GCRO Florida branch office is located in Mary Esther, Florida.

Operational Science Advisory Team (OSAT)

The Operational Science Advisory Team (OSAT) is a small group of agency representatives, or members, located at Deepwater Horizon Unified Area Command, within the Environmental Unit. The Unified Area Command operates under the direction of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Federal On-Scene Coordinator. The Environmental Unit is under the operational control of NOAA. OSAT acts as an advisory board, providing a cross-agency perspective based on near real-time analysis of data from the sub-surface and sub-sea monitoring effort to inform operational decision making. View the OSAT Reports.

Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative

surveyors on beach

Survey of the beach and Pensacola Naval Air Station

In response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP has announced a $500 million commitment over a 10 year period to create a broad independent research program to be known as the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI). The GRI will investigate the impacts of the oil, dispersed oil, and dispersant on the ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico and affected coastal states. The GRI will also develop improved oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies.

Oil Spill Academic Task Force (OSATF)

The Oil Spill Academic Task Force (OSATF) is a consortium of scientists and scholars from institutions in the State University System as well as five of Florida's private universities and two marine laboratories. Working in collaboration with DEP, the OSATF brings together expertise and resources to assist the state of Florida and the Gulf region in responding to and studying the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.


Important Phone Numbers

  • Claims
    (800) 916-4893
  • Report Oil
    (800) 320-0519
  • Environment/Community Hotline
    (866) 448-5816

  • Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center
    (713) 323-1670
  • DEP Press Office
    (850) 245-2112
  • News Archive

Last updated: January 15, 2013

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