2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

There is a tremendous amount of controversy in the news today about the recent Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill. On April 20th 2010 a catastrophic explosion aboard an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico injured 17 people and left 11 people missing, which were later pronounced dead. There were a total of 126 people on board the working vessel that day. The remaining 98 people were taken ashore with no major injuries, according to a local coastguard. The Gulf oil spill has been declared the biggest in United States history as of May 2010. We have learned from passed oil spills, such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, that many things will be affected by this catastrophe.

Things such as, the cost of gas along with unemployment rates will soar in the upcoming months, not to mention how extremely damaging to the environment all this oil can become. People fear that the price at the pump will soon go up this summer season because of the upcoming holidays and the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill. However, according to the recent national average price of regular unleaded gasoline is selling for eight cents less than a week ago and 12 cents down from a month ago; all in accordance with May 28th 2010 (CNN2010).

It is amazing after the oil spill the price of went down $15; costing only $74 per barrel. As long as the oil price-drop stands, consumers will continue to see a drop in gasoline prices. In 1989, an oil spill known as the Exxon Valdez, leaked 11 million gallons of oil into the Alaska’s Prince William Sound.(Home to most Alaska native villages of Chenega and Tatitlek)

This particular oil spill, up until recently, was classified as the worst environmental disaster of all-time in the United States. The Valdez oil spill had very little impact on the price of oil and gas. There is currently enough supply to meet the demand, thus helping to keep the prices regulated and under control. An energy analyst, Alan Lammey, said the recent Gulf oil spill will have hardly any impact on how much drivers pay for gasoline at the pumps. These low gas prices will ultimately result in an economy boost for the United States. When people are saving money on gas, they can consume other items in the economy; such as vacations, dinning out, and many more costly things.

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has forced many people to be out of work. Fisherman of all types and tourism have been affected the most in the Gulf States because of the unstopped, massive oil leak, which has dumped at least 21,000 gallons of crude oil into the Gulf and is still flowing at a rate of still about 80 to 400 gallons a day. The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) have closed a wide area of the Gulf of Mexico from fishing. The closed area represents nearly 54,096 square miles, which that in fact is more than 22% of the Gulf’s Federal Waters (Shorelines of Alabama, eastern Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas).

This means that there is still 77% of the waters are still available for fishing. The NOAA has forbidden fishing to ensure that there are no outbreaks or poisonings happening in the waters due to the chemicals from the oil spill and the clean-up efforts. This is a good deed the NOAA is doing for the health of the people; however, is it actually helping the people who live in the Gulf States, by keeping them from work. In 2008 the Atlanta Federal Reserve, (Which is responsible for the sixth district, covering the states of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, 74 counties in the two-thirds of Tennessee, 38 parishes of southern Louisiana and 43 counties in southern Mississippi) estimate that there are 2.8 million jobs in that region associated with tourism in 2008.

All the way from Texas to Florida people are beginning to feel the impact of the recent Gulf oil spill. Just from tourism related industries and agriculture jobs account for almost 14% of the total employment of these states, which comes to 2.6 million job losses (Atlanta Federal Reserve). This amount includes 132,500 people in the food service business. In 2008, eastern Florida and the Gulf States commercial fishing industry generated more than $5.6 billion in income and support more than 200,000 jobs. Imagine going from that to nothing!

The Gulf States are seeing the most economical effects of the spill as of May 2010 (CBS Money Watch). In the 1989 Valdez oil spill tourism losses caused both a negative and a positive effect on the residents of the Prince William Sound. The major negative effect was a decrease in resident and non-resident vacation or pleasure-seeker traffic in the most affected areas. The main reason for this was the availability of visitor services such as accommodations, Charter boats, or air taxis.

Nearly 60% of businesses in the oil-affected areas reported cancellations and less business transactions altogether, due to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Reports from CNN news on May 28th 2010 stated that the commercial and recreational fishing closure is now 60,683 square miles, which is 25% of the Gulf of Mexico’s exclusive economic zones, according to the NOAA. Hotels in these areas are already using every advertizing “trick-n-the-book,” from “beach cams” to money-back guarantees’, to constant updates on websites to let people know that they are still open for business. Hotels, taxis, car rentals, and boat charter are the jobs that stand to profit or not be affected as much by the oil spill.

A more serious problem than gas prices and job losses is the environment. The environment has always seen the worst effects from oil spills. During the Valdez oil spill the chemicals that evaded the waters threaten the freshwater and marine environment, which affects surface resources and a wide range of subsurface organisms that in fact are linked in a complex food chain that includes human food resources. The poisons from the oil can be absorbed by the fish and can cause severe health problems if ingested by humans.

The recent Gulf oil spill has caused dead dolphins to wash ashore, endangered sea turtles have been found with oil stuck to their corneas , and lifeless brown pelicans in which recently was classified as endangered have been carried away in bags (John Sutter CNN 2010). All the beaches from Louisiana to Florida are beginning to be spattered with gobs of sticky crude. With the amount of oil that’s been released and is still being released, could cause a massive oxygen-free “dead zone” deep in the waters of the Gulf. This would suffocate all marine life on the ocean floor. An oceanographic from the University of Georgia said that if this happens the dead zone could change marine chemistry forever.

What happens is the bacteria eats oil and in the process also chews oxygen out of the ocean. Thus leaving no oxygen for the deep-water fish like grouper, snapper, and benthic communities of sea tubes and oysters all suffocate. The Exxon Valdez oil spill killed an estimated 250,000 seabirds, 2800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 150 bald eagles, 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs (The Christian Science Monitor). The recent Gulf of Mexico spill has already killed 393 sea birds, dozens of turtles, jellyfish, and dolphins have been found dead; scientist are still searching and recuing animals each day.

The one good thing that came from the Valdez oil spill was perhaps the Federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990. The law states that companies must have a “plan to prevent spills that may occur” and have a “detailed containment and cleanup plan” for oil spills. The law also includes a clause that prohibits any vessel that, after March 22, 1989, has caused an oil spill of more than one million gallons (3,800 m³) in any marine area, from operating in Prince William Sound. Due to the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill, environmentalist wants to pass a “strong clean-energy climate bill.” The National Resource Defense Comic Action Fund has already launched ads in eight states pressuring senators to pursue the bill (Yahoo news 2010).

President Barack Obama supports the need to invest in renewable energy. If the scientist fined a way to use the oil as an alternative energy resource then the oil spill could turn around and be somewhat a good disaster. The United States would not have to depend on foreign oil and the price of gasoline would then go down tremendously. A leading author of the major energy bill, the senate is considering this year, said that, “The sooner we can move off fossil fuels and to a new energy paradigm, the better for our nation (Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass). According to the government, they are trying to make the very best out of a bad situation.

In conclusion the government is going to have a price to pay for the job losses and billions of dollars will be spent for the clean-up of this catastrophe. This is just another expense that Americans are going to have to deal with and move on from in the long run.

The environment is the one suffering the most right now. The eco-system and the wildlife are going to take a long time to rebound from all the damage the oil has and will continue to cause until someone finds a way to stop the oil from leaking. Fishing has been prohibited in the Gulf States which in turn means loss of more jobs for workers. The Gulf States houses lots of jobs surrounding that type of work. The only hope is that the government officials handling the situation are smart enough to clean this up in a timely matter and prevent this type of damage from ever happening again.


Achenbach, J. (2010, May 5). After gulf oil spill []. Message posted to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/04/AR2010050402980.html?wprss=rss_nation/science

An Economy on Pause in the Gulf. New York Times, p. 7. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database. (2010, May 16).

Brown, Stephen. P. A. (2007, September Day). Economic Letter—Insights from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas []. Message posted to http://www.dallasfed.org/research/eclett/2007/el0710.html

Wind shift threatens Louisiana coast with oil slick, governor says []. Message posted to http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/05/10/gulf.oil/index.html?hpt=T2

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