University of Delaware
delware environmental institute

CEOE dean among ocean leaders to brief White House on Gulf oil spill

CEOE dean among ocean leaders to brief White House on Gulf oil spill

As efforts to stem BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill continue, University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment Dean Nancy Targett headed to the White House. Targett visited Vice President Joe Biden's Domestic Policy Advisory Committee Tuesday, June 22, to discuss response to the disaster.

Targett and four other experts from the ocean science community briefed the committee's staff on the Consortium for Ocean Leadership's June 3 meeting in Baton Rouge, La., which convened the U.S. research community on the spill.

“Federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are doing a lot in response to the spill, but the briefing was really an opportunity to focus on our perspectives from the non-federal scientific community,” said Targett, who chairs the board of trustees for Ocean Leadership, a nonprofit that represents 96 of the leading public and private ocean research and education institutions and has a number of nongovernmental organization and industry affiliates.

While the briefing identified the flow's most critical scientific challenges -- issues such as tracking the transport of the oil and dispersants as well as developing protocols to help understand the human and ecological impact of the spill -- Targett and her colleagues took much of the hour-long meeting to emphasize the need for greater organization of scientific efforts.

“Part of our message was that the academic community can bring a lot of assets to bear, and we're here to help,” she said, pointing to the use of UD's underwater glider as one example. “We really focused on how we can coordinate some of the non-federal scientific assets as well as data management in order to ensure rigorous science and avoid duplication.”

Attending the briefing on part of the domestic policy committee were Terrell McSweeny, domestic policy adviser to the vice president and deputy assistant to the president, and Brian Levine, deputy domestic policy adviser to the vice president.

Appearing with Targett were specialists in issues related to the spill who also are associated with Ocean Leadership. They included Robert Gagosian, president and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership; Steven Lohrenz, professor of marine science at the University of Southern Mississippi; Shirley Pomponi, executive director of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution at Florida Atlantic University; and Kevin Wheeler, vice president and director of public affairs at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.

The organization plans to build on the momentum from its June 3 meeting by organizing workshops that will focus on key topics related to the spill, Targett said.

“The conference gave us a very broad perspective on the issue,” she said. “Now we'd like to break apart into specific areas so we can delve more into depth to develop a science plan.”

For more on CEOE, visit the college's website.