Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010, an explosion, subsequent fire, and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) mobile drilling unit killed 11 workers and triggered a massive release of oil from British Petroleum’s Macondo well located about one mile below the ocean surface and about 80 km offshore. Initial efforts to cap the well following the explosion were unsuccessful, and for 87 days after the explosion, the well spewed oil and natural gas uncontrollably into the northern Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). Currents, winds, and tides carried these surface oil slicks north to the Gulf states, fouling more than 2,000 km of shoreline. These areas included beaches, bays, estuaries, and marshes from eastern Texas to the Florida Panhandle. 

As a result of this oil spill, President Obama, on July 6, 2012, signed into effect the Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act). The Act established the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund in the U.S. Department of the Treasury and directed 80% of the civil penalties paid after July 6, 2012, under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in connection with the DWH oil spill, to be deposited into the Trust Fund and invested. As part of this Act, 2.5 % of funds and 25% of interest earned on the Trust Fund are dedicated to the establishment of Centers of Excellence in each of the five Gulf Coast states to focus on science, technology, and monitoring within the Gulf of Mexico Region and address the disciplines in the Act. Through the RESTORE Act, MBRACE will receive approximately $26 million over 15 years.

MBRACE and the RESTORE Act Disciplines

MBRACE represents a broad cross-section of participants with demonstrated ability and expertise in science, technology, and monitoring that will focus on the five RESTORE Act Center of Excellence disciplines: 

  1. Coastal and deltaic sustainability, restoration and protection, including solutions and technology that allow citizens to live in a safe and sustainable manner in a coastal delta in the Gulf Coast Region

  2. Coastal fisheries and wildlife ecosystem research and monitoring in the Gulf Coast Region

  3. Offshore energy development, including research and technology to improve the sustainable and safe development of energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico

  4. Sustainable and resilient growth, economic and commercial development in the Gulf of Mexico

  5. Comprehensive observation, monitoring, and mapping of the Gulf of Mexico

Designated Centers of Excellence


MBRACE is one of five Centers of Excellence currently designated by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Information about the other Center of Excellence programs can be found on their websites:

Texas One Gulf

Subsea Systems Institute

RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana

Florida RESTORE Act Center of Excellence Program (FLRACEP)

This project was paid for with federal funding from the Department of the Treasury under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act). The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Treasury.