Good Industry Stewards
The oil and natural gas production industry has an outstanding record on environmental stewardship in the Gulf of Mexico. An extensive body of literature, authored by federal, state, academic and industry sources, demonstrate that the oil and gas industry makes substantial contributions to domestic production from this region with minimal environmental impact. Despite the rhetoric that exists from anti-development interests, industry has an admirable record of environmental protection:
Prior to it's split, the U.S. Mineral Management Service (MMS) statistics showed that production operations were the source of only 0.5 percent of hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2000, MMS data showed that for the approximately 3,900 platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, there were only 12 platform spills, for a total of 323 barrels of oil spilled. Similarly, U.S. Coast Guard data said that the amount of oil spilled in all U.S. waters in 1999, the last year for which complete figures were available, was about two hundred-thousandths (0.000024) of one percent of all the oil consumed in the United States. That means that more than 99.9 percent of the oil is safely produced and transported.
Overall, 5 to 100 times more fish occupy the areas around oil and natural gas platforms when compared to surrounding mud and clay surfaces. Around 30 percent of the fish caught by recreational fishermen are near platforms. Moreover, studies have shown that oil and natural gas operations do not contaminate fish or shellfish around platforms and thus do not pose a risk to human health.
The industry takes care to protect all marine species, including those that are endangered. Extensive procedures are in place, especially during platform removal, to assure that sea turtles and marine mammals are protected. Since 1986, only one turtle (and no dolphins or whales) was reported harmed as the result of removing a platform; that injury may have been due to a collision with a boat.
Decades ago, oil and gas operations were a source of wetlands loss along the Gulf Coast. But by working closely with state and federal governments, industry has dramatically decreased its impact on wetlands by 90% since 1982.
Petroleum industry operations in the Gulf of Mexico are under close scrutiny and are highly regulated. Offshore operators are required to operate under 17 major permits and follow 90 sets of federal regulations, as well as meet state requirements. The industry has incorporated compliance with these requirements into their daily business practice. Working with MMS, the industry has implemented a voluntary Safety and Environmental Management Program (SEMP) that provides a mechanism for continued improvement in the industry’s already excellent performance.