Oil and gas exploitation projects are harming the environment and communities of the Gulf coast at an increasingly alarming rate.
The Gulf of Mexico is home to a high diversity of marine life because of the multitude of different marine ecosystems — freshwater and saltwater marshes, mangrove forests, coral reefs, and open ocean. These habitats are critical to species and local communities. However, these habitats are under constant attack from the oil and gas industry. More than half of the United State’s oil and gas facilities are found in the western Gulf of Mexico. These projects pollute the environment for both wildlife and people. Our fenceline communities see increases in health issues due to air and water pollution and reduction in property values.
Since the first offshore drilling began in 1942, about 6,000 oil and gas structures have been installed in the Gulf of Mexico. These structures range in size from single well caissons in 10-ft water depths to large, complex facilities in water depths up to almost 10,000 ft. About 3,500 structures currently stand in the Gulf of Mexico; of these, over 3,200 remain active. Oil and gas structures create a large network of standing structures, interconnected by hundreds of miles of pipelines. Increased ship traffic, spills, and decreased water quality would impact these communities and wildlife.This region is home to 5 species of sea turtles and because these turtles are endangered and threatened, each egg in each nest is crucial for the success and recovery of the species. Offshore, the region is federally protected as a critical foraging habitat for loggerhead sea turtles. They forage on the floating saragasm or algal mats offshore. Numerous marine species use this region as a migratory swimway to traverse across the Gulf of Mexico.