Impacts of Oil on the Gulf Coast



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Wildlife Management Institute


Much of the recent public interest in the effects of petroleum production on wildlife, fish, and the ecological parameters which support these natural resources has been centered on oil pollution resulting from spectacular accidents. While such events do occur and in some local areas appear to approach catastrophic proportions, these events do not represent the major ecological problems resulting from petroleum production. Oil pollution, per se, is only one facet of the impact of the petroleum industry on the basic ecology of an area, and from our experience appears to have far less permanent effect on the environment than does a multitude of other activities associated with the petroleum industry. Unfortunately the public arousal and outcry about pollution in general and oil pollution in particular has overshadowed many industrial activities that tend to result in more far-reaching and irreversible damages to the environment than occur from pollution alone. It is the purpose of this paper to point up the many other problems associated with petroleum exploration and production in marine and estuarine areas and to attempt to place oil as a pollutant into proper perspective with these various other activities as they affect the basic ecology of coastal Louisiana.


pages 206-219


petroleum industry, ocean pollution, oil spills, environmental impact, United States Gulf Coast, oil development