Dr. David Wallace
19 February 2015
Research Proposal: The Gulf of Mexico and its benefits
The Gulf of Mexico borders about 1,680 miles of U.S. coast and plays a very important role in our ecosystem, with over thirty significant rivers flowing into it. If we don’t play a role in keeping it clean it could become unmanageable with trash and debris. It is a highly diverse area with high shrimp, dolphin, and whale populations, and is home of many productive fisheries. It also employs about 55,000 workers in the oil extraction field and supplies about one fourth of our country’s oil (Fausset). Tourism also pays a big role in this region with many people visiting its beaches for numerous reasons, providing these regions with good economic traffic. Introduction
The Gulf of Mexico used to be nothing but a vast blue ocean for miles on end, but now it is not so pure, and it has turned into a goldmine for big oil businesses. These companies are mainly interested in collecting as much oil as possible to turn a hefty profit. I am not for or against oil rigs, but I have concerns with the abandonment of the old rigs, when they become inoperable. When an oil rig is taken down, sticks of dynamite are driven into to the substructure holding the rig up, causing a huge underwater explosion that is much like genocide to the colony of fish that was populated on the rig. Then the rig platform is taken by a large barge to wherever the destination has been set for it.
As a fisherman, I have spent years fishing the Gulf and have noticed that a couple of inshore rigs were taken out or decommissioned. I think this is a big issue because many people fish at these rigs because they are plentiful with fish that have attracted to its structure and pipes. I have been interested in the reason the oil companies are decommissioning their rigs so I have started a research proposal to see the views of both sides of the effecting groups. With this information we hope to see the best actions for all of the discourse communities affected. This includes the fishing groups, the rig workers and companies, and the environmentalists. Current Efforts
Since oil rigs are out in the gulf, not many people see them. That is why there isn’t much of a voice from the public about this topic. Secondly, there are only a few choices we have when considering what to do with an abandoned oil rig. Those options are to just leave it there, or to have it blown up from the base and transported. Few companies have also begun sinking the old rigs in the ocean because they had nothing else to do with it. I think this is actually a good idea because it provides for a large habitat for fish when coral and oysters have grown onto it. Apart from the fishers, the shrimping community is actually in favor of rigs being decommisioned, because at night they are in risk of getting their nets tangled in the rigs if they pass to close. Precautions such as the coordinates to every known rig are accessible to the public but accidents still happen. This problem isn’t going away, with many new rigs being built and more area of seafloor becoming open for business from federal bills being passed in 2010. Benefits of Change
For the few groups that are still opposed to drilling in the gulf, their voices may forever be unheard and drilling in the gulf will continue and grow. It’s because oil is such a crucial part of the way we live, and the risk is worth the reward in this case. In regards to the oil rigs being decommissioned I believe that regulations can be added to help the immense loss of habitat destruction, like adding a maximum weight of explosive that may be used in the sub-detonation. However, Federal regulations are in place that prevent any explosions from occurring during the spawning times of the year for fish and I believe that is a good thing, and will help for our future generations of fish. Counterarguments
The federal government has a program...
Cited: Fausset, Richard. "Flaming Oil Rig Sinks in Gulf of Mexico." Los Angeles Times. 23 April 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.
Spencer, Nat. “Oil Companies, Environmentalists oppose fed rules for removing sunken oil rigs.” Fox News. Web. February 23, 2015.
Villareal, T. A., et al. "Petroleum production platforms as sites for the expansion of ciguatera in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico." Harmful Algae 6.2 (2007): 253-259. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
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