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Economic Research

Oil Spill Seeps Into Many Coastal Concerns

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill dealt a heavy blow to the coastal region's economy and environment. Although the well has been permanently sealed, the disaster's impact on some of the region's vital industries, as well as the longer-term environmental and economic effects, is still uncertain.

In "Oil Spill Seeps Into Many Coastal Concerns," staff writer Charles Davidson gives an overview of the spill's effects on major sectors of the Gulf Coast economy, including energy production, transportation, tourism, and fishing.

On a national level, the oil spill posed two key threats—disruptions in energy supplies and transportation—neither of which materialized, writes Davidson. The portion of the Gulf Coast economy affected by the disaster is a relatively small piece of the U.S. economy, about 1 percent. But on the local level, the oil gushing from the busted well caused some serious disruptions, with fishing and tourism, two of the region's economic engines, taking a significant hit.

In addition to the immediate hits to their revenues, both industries also face the challenge of rebuilding the Gulf Coast's brand as a fishing and tourism destination. And long-term effects on the region's marine life and coastal habitats—unknown as yet—could create problems for the fishing industry far into the future. On the brighter side, restoration efforts could increase spending and employment in the region, similar to the recovery-related spending and jobs created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina five years ago.

For more information about how the oil spill affected the fishing and tourism industries, as well as other key sectors of the Gulf Coast economy, be sure to read the full story, featured in the third-quarter issue of EconSouth.