Audubon Remembers Deepwater Horizon: Accountability Matters

Audubon remains deeply committed to Gulf restoration and to protecting the laws that held BP accountable.

WASHINGTON—In advance of the eighth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20, National Audubon Society President and CEO David Yarnold (@david_yarnold) issued the following statement:

”Eight years ago 11 people died in the worst environmental tragedy the U.S. has ever seen. Restoration has just begun in earnest, and the passage of time won’t erase BP’s recklessness. In fact, we’re more concerned than ever about the rollback of laws and regulations that are helping to rebuild the Gulf.

“Thanks to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, BP paid $100 million in fines for causing the deaths of one million birds. But we’re alarmed by efforts in Congress and the Department of the Interior to weaken this law and give BP or others a free pass for killing birds in future spills.

“It’s ridiculous to try and make the case after 100 years that this law can’t coexist with best industry practices when we have a century of proof to the contrary.

“Audubon will oppose these bird-killing moves—we will engage our 1.2 million members who represent America’s political spectrum. We will bring 113 years of commitment to bird protection to safeguard  one of the most important bird conservation laws in America.”

Over the course of 87 days, 130 million gallons of oil were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico killing a million birds and other marine life. To date, as a result of the MBTA, over $64 million of BP settlement funds have been paid out to help birds and the places they need. These funds have protected or restored more than 350,000 acres benefitting birds and people. 

Brian Moore, vice president of Gulf policy echoed these sentiments, saying: “The Migratory Bird Treaty Act upholds the simple premise that if you break it, you buy it. As a result of this law, BP has been held criminally accountable for the unparalleled damage it wrought on birds across the Gulf.

"Through fines directly tied to this law, we are seeing dollars turn into acres across the Gulf to begin to repair the damage done to birds and the environment. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act must be upheld to ensure accountability for future oil spills and other environmental disasters.”

Congress passed the MBTA in 1918 in response to public outcry over the mass slaughter of birds, which threatened egrets and other species with extirpation. The law prohibits killing or harming America’s birds except under certain conditions, including managed hunting seasons for game species. The law protects more than 1,000 bird species (including iconic Gulf birds such as the Roseate Spoonbill, Snowy Egret and Great Blue Heron) in part because industries implement commonsense best management practices like covering tar pits and marking transmission lines.

Read the infographic summarizing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Facts and figures on industrial causes of bird mortality in the United States:

To learn more about Audubon and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, please visit

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at www.audubon.organd follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.