July 17, 2015 – A research consortium that includes the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law at the University of Houston Law Center will share the nation’s first federal grant from the RESTORE Trust Fund to study Gulf Coast issues in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster.
The Texas OneGulf Center of Excellence, led by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, will split an initial $4.036 million grant with the Subsea Systems Institute at the University of Houston. Funding is derived from administrative and civil penalties levied against those responsible for the 2010 explosion that killed 11 crewmen and resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. waters.
The Texas OneGulf group will focus on marine science and human health to promote collaborative, multi-disciplinary research, synthesis, and problem solving concentrating on the Gulf of Mexico. Its research will foster sustainable and resilient growth, as well as economic and commercial development in the coastal region.
“The creation of the Texas OneGulf Consortium provides an important, lasting vehicle to promote the preservation and sustainable development of the Gulf of Mexico,” said UHLC Professor Emeritus Stephen Zamora, director of the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law. “As a consortium member, the Center will work to promote research and development of projects that will engage both Mexican and U.S. agencies to protect the Gulf, a vital resource shared by both countries whose cooperation is essential to the goals of the RESTORE Act.”
The Subsea Systems Institute Center of Excellence will study offshore energy development with a focus on science and technology to establish policy and best practices for safe and responsible energy development in the Gulf.
"Our vision is to create an institute that is recognized around the world as the undisputed leader in transformative deepwater technology," said Ramanan Krishnamoorti, chief energy officer and interim vice president for research and technology transfer at the University of Houston. "We will create, test, and provide the technologies that industry will need in the next five to 10 years."
“We are pleased that Texas is the first state to be awarded these funds,” Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Commissioner Toby Baker, the state’s representative on the RESTORE Council, said in announcing the federal grant. “Through these dedicated financial resources we can now get to work and focus on the research and development needed to protect and revitalize our Gulf Coast and enrich our state’s economy impacted by this disaster.”
The federal RESTORE Act requires the five Gulf states affected by the oil spill to establish centers to conduct research on the Gulf Coast region. The funds supporting the Centers of Excellence amount to 2.5 percent of the RESTORE Trust Fund. Their research roles could expand as more money is devoted to the fund.