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Coastal Research To Be Funded With BP Settlement Money

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Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council
This graphic shows how the BP oil spill settlement money is split up. Two and a half percent of is reserved for research, disbursed through a designated "Center of Excellence."

Much of the money the state plans to get through the BP oil spill settlement will go toward big construction projects -- building barrier islands and levees.

 

Some of that money is reserved for coastal research projects, and the first projects have been announced.

 

One of the big ways the scientific research gets done on the coast is through specific projects. The state or the feds have money for a project -- like a barrier island -- and they might ask scientists to look into something for them.

 

Denise Reed, Vice President for Strategic Research Initiatives at the Water Institute of the Gulf says that research is usually “pretty narrow data collection -- or a fairly focused investigation of something that we're pretty sure we can get an answer [to].”

 

Reed says the studies funded with this BP settlement money are different. They’re still meant to improve future master plans, but they’re more exploratory.

 

“It's really a little bit more about pushing the envelope than learning something new in that sense,” Reed says. “It's perhaps a little higher risk some of the science work we do it was projects.”

 

Reed says that kind of research is important because the coast is always changing, and there’s a lot we still don’t know -- like how the newly built barrier islands perform over time.

 

It’s why one of the 13 studies funded is going to do just that, with all the latest technology. The hope is to work what they learn into future barrier island projects.

 

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Coypu Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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