The costs from this one industrial accident are not yet fully-counted, but it is already clear that the impacts on the region's natural systems and people were enormous, and that economic losses total tens of billions of dollars. Experience has shown that the consequences of oil spills play out over decades—and often in unexpected ways. The Gulf has been severely environmentally degraded – a process that began decades before the spill. Restoring it to its state on the day before the catastrophe will not be sufficient to ensure its long-term vitality.