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Putting a Value on Injuries to Natural Assets: The BP Oil Spill

Multiple authors, including Colleen Donovan


April 21, 2017
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, causing the largest off-shore oil spill in U.S. history. In “Putting a Value on Injuries to Natural Assets: the BP Oil Spill,” a research study published in Science, Abt Global’s Colleen Donovan and co-authors describe how they estimated the monetary value of the natural resource damages from the spill. The authors conducted the study on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the other Trustees of the Gulf of Mexico’s natural resources.
  • Consistent with guidance in the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990, the research team developed and administered a nationally representative, stated preference survey. Stated preference surveys are estimation methods to quantify the values people place on natural resources; and
  • The survey asked American adults to vote for or against a proposed program for preventing a similar accident in the future based on the amount their household would pay in extra taxes if the program were implemented. 
  • The results demonstrate that respondents care about the outcome of the program decision; and
  • Believe both that their survey choices will influence the decision about the program and will have to pay the tax amount described to them.
The results also demonstrate that American adults are willing to pay at least $17.2 billion to prevent such injuries in the future to the Gulf of Mexico’s natural resources.
Read more about Abt’s Deepwater Horizon-related work:
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Planning
Assessing the Environmental Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Abt Researchers Contribute to Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan
Focus Areas
North America