The 2010 Gulf Coast Oil Spill and RFF's Research

Jan 1, 2011 | RFF Staff

The offshore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has brought oil-related energy, liability, and regulatory issues back to the forefront. RFF's strong legacy of research and public events on these topics can provide context for the ongoing situation and analysis of the policy implications.

2010 Gulf Offshore Oil Spill - BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Platform

Oil Spill Commission

In August 2010, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling asked RFF to conduct several studies that would help inform the Commission’s investigations and recommendations. RFF was very pleased to take part in this important work, undertaking research on topics including risk assessment and management practices, organizational safety culture, empirical assessment of oil spills in the Gulf region, assessment of the costs and benefits of deepwater drilling, and an assessment of industry efforts to prepare for future catastrophic oil spill containment. The seven papers below released in January 2011 comprise RFF’s Oil Spill Commission series.

All findings, opinions, statements, and recommendations contained in this report are solely those of its authors. The report has been submitted to the staff of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, but the report is not the work product of the Commission or its staff, and should not be construed in any respect as the official or unofficial findings, opinions, statements, or recommendations of the Commission or its staff.

Offshore Oversight: How Deep Is the Regulatory Ocean?
Based on : Preliminary Empirical Assessment of Offshore Production Platforms in the Gulf of Mexico
Lucija Muehlenbachs, Mark A. Cohen, and Todd Gerarden
Discussion Paper | January 2011

Keeping Oil Extraction Safe: Incorporating Risk to Prevent Further Spills
Based on : Precursor Analysis for Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling: From Prescriptive to Risk-Informed Regulation
Roger M. Cooke, Heather L. Ross, and Adam Stern
Discussion Paper | January 2011

Risk Management Practices: How Do You Determine When Safe is Safe Enough?
Based on : Risk Management Practices: Cross-Agency Comparisons with Minerals Management Service
Lynn Scarlett, Igor Linkov, and Carolyn Kousky
Discussion Paper | January 2011

The Costs and Benefits of Deepwater Drilling Regulation
Based on : Understanding the Costs and Benefits of Deepwater Oil Drilling Regulation
Alan J. Krupnick, Sarah Campbell, Mark A. Cohen, and Ian W.H. Parry
Discussion Paper | January 2011

Deepwater Drilling: Promoting a “Safety Culture”
Based on : Deepwater Drilling: Law, Policy, and Economics of Firm Organization and Safety
Mark A. Cohen, Madeline Gottlieb, Joshua Linn, and Nathan Richardson
Discussion Paper | January 2011

Federal Agencies and Risk Management: A Comparative Assessment
Based on : Managing Environmental, Health, and Safety Risks
Lynn Scarlett, Arthur G. Fraas, Richard D. Morgenstern, and Timothy Murphy
Discussion Paper | January 2011

Containing the Next Deepwater Well Blowout: Preventing Future Spills from Becoming Catastrophic
Based on : Organizational Design for Spill Containment in Deepwater Drilling Operations in the Gulf of Mexico: Assessment of the Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC)
Robert Anderson, Mark A. Cohen, Molly K. Macauley, Nathan Richardson, and Adam Stern
Discussion Paper | January 2011


How Do You Put a Price on Marine Oil Pollution Damages?
James W. Boyd
Summer 2010, Number 175

Valuing the Oil Spill’s Effects on Nature
James N. Sanchirico
Weekly Policy Commentary | August 2010

Who Bears the Long-Term Costs of Stricter Anti-Spill Policy? It’s Not Who You Think
Timothy J. Brennan
Feature | August 2010

Some Implications of Tightening Regulation of U.S. Deepwater Drilling
Stephen P.A. Brown
Feature | June 2010

Lost Ecosystem Goods and Services as a Measure of Marine Oil Pollution Damages
James W. Boyd
Feature | May 2010

Deterring Oil Spills: Who Should Pay and How Much?
Mark A. Cohen
Backgrounder | May 2010

Deepwater Horizon and the Patchwork of Oil Spill Liability Law
Nathan Richardson
Backgrounder | May 2010

A Taxonomy of Oil Spill Costs: What are the Likely Costs of the Deepwater Horizon Spill?
Mark A. Cohen
Backgrounder | May 2010

From the Gulf of Mexico, Questions About Oil 
J.W. Anderson
May 5, 2010

Oil Spills: The Deterrent Effects of Monitoring, Enforcement, and Public Information
Mark A. Cohen, Vice President for Research
April 20, 2009 

Related Publications

America’s Oil Addiction: Tensions and Tradeoffs
Special Issue of Resources
Fall 2006, Number 163

Global Compensation for Oil Pollution Damages: The Innovations of the American Oil Pollution Act
James W. Boyd
September 2004

Financial Assurance Rules and Natural Resource Damage Liability: A Working Marriage?
James W. Boyd
April 2001 

Oil and Water Don't Mix: Risk on Tap in Western Siberia 
Kris Wernstedt
December 1996

Accidents Waiting to Happen: Liability Policy and Toxic Pollution Releases
Anna Alberini and David Austin
April 2001

Strict Liability as a Deterrent in Toxic Waste Management:
Empirical Evidence from Accident and Spill Data

Anna Alberini and David H. Austin 
February 1998

Related Events

Energy Policy Challenges: Is the Past Prologue?
RFF Seminar
October 29, 2008

Barack Obama: Securing Our Energy Future
RFF Policy Leadership Forum
September 15, 2005

Winning the Oil Endgame
RFF Policy Leadership Forum w/ Amory B. Lovins
September 21, 2004

More RFF publications, features and events related to oil and gas.​​