Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) applauded the award of a $1.9 million RESTORE Act Centers of Excellence grant to the Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO), part of USF's College of Marine Science located in St. Petersburg. The grant program, which directs funding from civil penalties paid by BP in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, will support new science, monitoring, and technology-related marine research to complement FIO's ongoing work to support healthy fisheries and marine habitats.
"The toxic tar balls washing up on our beaches, the near-collapse of our fisheries, and the marine life covered in toxic sludge – I will never forget the damage caused by the BP oil spill, which our state is still recovering from," said Crist. "Research supported by the Florida Institute of Oceanography is vital to not only restoring our waters, but will help protect Florida's ocean ecosystems and our economy. I applaud the great work of this world-renowned institute and congratulate them on this well-deserved award furthering the state's science research programs."
"To date, the Centers of Excellence Research Grants program has supported world-class research on the marine habitats, fish, and wildlife that are so important to Florida’s coastal economy and way of life. With this new award from the Department of Treasury, we will continue to fund important projects and investigations in the Gulf of Mexico," said Dr. Phil Kramer, Director of FIO and lead investigator on the Centers of Excellence Research Grant award.
Crist was Governor of Florida at the time the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, causing the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Following that disaster, Crist proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit offshore drilling and fought to hold BP accountable for the resulting damage to Florida's coastal communities. In Congress, he has been an outspoken advocate for protecting our environment and supporting critical marine research, work he will continue as a member of the House Appropriations Committee and sponsoring legislation to ban offshore drilling.
FIO Program Background:
- The Florida RESTORE Act Centers of Excellence Program will receive $26.2 million, in total, Deepwater Horizon-related penalties through 2031.
- This money will go to Florida-based research institutions and NGO’s to implement research and monitoring of Florida’s marine resources and habitats.
- Since 2015, approximately $3.7 million has already been awarded to eight Centers of Excellent to implement eleven research projects.
- These funds have supported 46 planned or submitted scientific papers and 57 students
- FIO serves as the program office and host of this grants program.
New competitions for funding will be announced every two years until the end of the program.