"The Gulf of Mexico coastal environment (Gulf Coast) stretches over approximately 600,000 square miles across five U.S. states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. It is home to more than 22 million people and more than 15,000 species of sea life. This environment has been degraded over time due to, among other things, altered hydrology, loss of barrier islands and coastal wetland habitat, issues associated with low water quality, and other human impacts and natural processes. Pre-existing environmental issues throughout the Gulf Coast have been affected and in some cases exacerbated by recent natural hazards and manmade catastrophes. Among other events, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused widespread damage to wetland and coastal areas along the Gulf. A number of federal efforts are ongoing to restore parts of the Gulf Coast, including major projects by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency, among other federal agencies. Significant state and local efforts to restore the Gulf Coast have also been undertaken, in some cases in consultation with the federal government. The Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, 2010, resulted in an unprecedented discharge of oil in U.S. waters, and eventually resulted in the oiling of over 1,100 miles of shoreline. As an identified responsible party, BP is liable for response (i.e., cleanup) costs, as well as specified economic damages and natural resource damages related to the spill. As of the date of this report, oil cleanup operations continue, as well as various claims processes that seek to compensate parties for damages related to the spill."
CRS Report for Congress, R43380