Gulf Oil Disaster’s Impacts to Wildlife and Habitat Still Unaddressed Four Years Later

April 17, 2014
Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543,
Erin Greeson, National Audubon Society, 503.913.8978,
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781,

(New Orleans, LA—April 17, 2014) Four years after the Gulf oil disaster began, killing 11 men and spewing 4.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, leading national and local conservation organizations working on Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast restoration – Environmental Defense FundNational Audubon SocietyNational Wildlife FederationCoalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation – released the following statement:

“Four years after the worst oil spill in U.S. history, Gulf recovery remains elusive. We must hope for a measure of justice for communities, wildlife and habitats. However, the urgent need for restoration is still unfulfilled.

“Reports from the field and laboratory continue to raise the alarm. New scientific studies show how the oil disaster’s impacts are permeating the food chain – from small microorganisms like zooplankton to large mammals like sperm whales and dolphins. Louisiana wetlands suffocated by BP’s oil have eroded more quickly than those the oil spared. Areas that once provided valuable mangrove habitat for thousands of nesting birds and other animals have shrunk or disappeared. Islands that were thriving rookeries for birds and wildlife are now gray and lifeless. The stark truth of visible damage in areas like Barataria Bay, Louisiana, speaks for itself. This week, BP declared active clean up complete in Louisiana, but volumes of BP oil continue to surface, from miles of oiled coastline to a monster-sized 40,000-pound tar mat.  

“While BP denies clear science, the facts present the truth: the Gulf is still hurting, and BP’s to blame. Four years after the largest oil spill in U.S. history, the oil giant has yet to pay a penny of its Clean Water Act fines for polluting the Gulf.

“Restoration of the Mississippi River Delta ecosystem must happen to repair natural resources on which local economies depend. Solutions are ready and within reach. But restoration work cannot begin in earnest until BP is held accountable to the full extent of the law. We urge swift resolution to this crisis. It is past-due and justice demands it.”


Since the BP oil disaster began four years ago, ongoing findings deliver truths omitted by BP’s ads: the oil disaster’s negative effects are increasingly clear, present and far from resolved. Over the past year alone, new research has surfaced:

  • A new infographic depicts ongoing impacts of the Gulf oil disaster four years later.
  • A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) detailed how exposure to BP oil can lead to abnormalities including irregular heartbeats and heart attacks in Atlantic bluefin tuna and amberjack.
  • A new NOAA study revealed that dolphins exposed to BP oil had increased health problems, including adrenal problems, severe lung disease and reproductive issues.
  • A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences definitively linked a community of damaged deep water corals near the Macondo well to the BP oil spill.
  • A Louisiana State University researcher found that the BP oil spill is still killing Louisiana coastal insects.
  • Visible tar balls and tar mats continue to surface, including a 40,000-pound tar mat discovered off the coast of a Louisiana barrier island in June 2013.

# # #

Environmental Defense Fund (, a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.