Research Paper: Florida Gulf Coast Oil

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Florida Gulf Coast Oil Spill

The most significant problem with an oil spill like the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 is that there are no real preparations made for the issue (Aguilar, 2010; Deepwater, 2011). The State of Florida and even the federal government do not have provisions in place for who is responsible for the cleanup of such a spill. While the company that created the spill should, technically, clean up any problems their spill caused, that can be difficult to enforce -- especially in the face of the spill being an accident. Since the company did not mean to cause the problem, liability can be difficult to hold that company to, even though the state would likely try. Another reason that may not work, however, is that the cleanup related to an oil spill costs a great deal of money. The company may not have that level of cash flow or income available, in which case it would not be able to administer the clean up properly or completely. There are also liability issues when it comes to what company actually caused or facilitated the spill (Aguilar, 2010; Robertson & Krauss, 2010).

In the Deepwater Horizon incident, BP claimed that it was not really at fault because there were other companies with which it worked (Deepwater, 2011). Those companies had to take some of the responsibility, because they were also a part of the accident. However, the main issue is not really what company is at fault, but how the cleanup will be addressed and which agencies will help in that cleanup. The state and the federal government are important allies in the cleanup of oil spills in gulf states. Local municipalities should also help, though, because they are the ones who will be benefitting from the cleanup efforts. The main issue with getting help from the local area is that the cost of the cleanup is often more than smaller cities and towns can afford (Aguilar, 2010). They are not prepared for a disaster of that scale, so they can do very little in order to facilitate containment and clean up. Instead, they must ask for state and federal help, and then wait to see what they receive.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are the two main players when it comes to issues such as oil spills (Aguilar, 2010). If an oil spill was headed toward a town or city in Florida, the EPA and FEMA would be the two federal agencies the town (or state) should notify. Doing so preemptively is the best idea, because it allows the agencies to go ahead and mobilize. Once they have done that, they will be able to have people available for help with the cleanup much faster than they would be able to if they were not notified until oil was already hitting the beaches. Additionally, containment would be an important issue, and the federal government has the equipment and manpower to allow for that containment more easily than a state or local municipality could provide. With that in mind, however, it is very important for the local, state, and federal authorities to work together in order to make sure the cleanup is handled as quickly as possible. That can keep costs down and protect the planet.

One of the key issues to coordinate is containment of the oil that is moving toward the beach (Robertson & Krauss, 2010). When containment is done as soon as possible, there is less oil actually reaching the beaches. The oil that does reach the beach will be in a smaller area and will not be as difficult to clean up, making the process easier on the people, the environment, and the budget. When more oil is collected before it touches the beaches, that can also save and protect a significant amount of wildlife that would otherwise be harmed or killed by the oil. The ecosystem is important for that wildlife, and also for the people who make their living in the water off the Florida coast. Fishermen and others who use the waterways and the Gulf of Mexico extensively need to be able to make their living without struggling through the damage caused by oil, but if they are damaged by it they need some form of restitution. They may never be able to go back to the way things were because of the damage caused by the spill, which could cost them their livelihood and all they know how to do.

When it comes to the EPA and FEMA, they can coordinate with one another to contain and clean the spill. The EPA is going to be focused on protecting the environment and lessening the impact of the oil spill on the planet, while FEMA is going to be interested in the human cost of the oil spill. That is important to note, because both agencies are very valuable when it comes to taking care of issues such as oil spills and other disasters. While many people see an oil spill as a strictly environmental disaster, this is not the case. It is true that oil spills and related issues definitely cause serious problems for the environment, because they affect the ecosystem and damage the planet. However, not everyone realizes the economic cost that also comes with oil spills and other disasters. People are out of work if they fish or use the waterways for other economic pursuits. For areas where there are a lot of visitors, it is also important to consider the value of tourism.

Economic disasters can take place in areas where oil spills and other problems have occurred, because these areas lose so many of their tourism dollars. For a small town in Florida, this could completely change the economy and the ability of the people in that town to make a living. Additionally, companies that were open because of the tourists would start to close, laying off more and more workers who would also struggle to find jobs. Since those people no longer have jobs, they will not be spending much money to help the local economy -- causing more stores to close. Over time, this could become a serious issue for the entire town, and could even spread to surrounding towns that were used to counting on some of the out of town business they received from smaller towns around them. The impact of an oil spill is much farther reaching than the local beach where it first washes up, but by the time people realize that in many cases the damage has already been done. With that in mind, being proactive is one of the best options.

Paying for the protection of the beach and the subsequent cleanup is a serious issue (Deepwater, 2011; Robertson & Krauss, 2010). While the state and the town can do only so much, they will need to focus on getting help from the federal government (both FEMA and the EPA) in order to make sure the cost of the cleanup can be covered. It can easily run into the millions or even the billions of dollars to clean up a large oil spill, and the company that caused the spill may or may not be made to pay for all or a portion of that (Robertson & Krauss, 2010). Lost revenue from the local businesses is generally a part of a class action suit against the company, as well, since the government does not just freely hand out money to people who were harmed in these types of cases. For an oil spill case, the city can also sue the company that caused the spill (Robertson & Krauss, 2010). With a number of lawsuits filed against it, the company that caused the spill may declare bankruptcy or find another way not to pay if it is found liable, which can be a serious issue for people who lost their livelihood to the spill and cannot recover economically.

It would seem that these people (and the city in general) would be deserving of money that would help them to regain what they lost, but getting that money is a different story entirely. Even with a winning lawsuit, it can still be difficult to collect the money. The company may appeal the verdict, attempt to settle with the city or the people for much less, or employ other techniques that will allow them to pay less (or nothing at all). The company may even file bankruptcy, in which case the people who are owed money from the lawsuit will likely never see that money. Winning a lawsuit does not mean much if the person cannot collect that money, since there is no value to winning something that does not provide the person with the benefit he or she won. Knowing that many people who win lawsuits do not collect is important, because it means that towns and cities can work toward protecting their… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Florida Gulf Coast Oil.  (2013, December 4).  Retrieved December 8, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/florida-gulf-coast-oil/8015550

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"Florida Gulf Coast Oil."  4 December 2013.  Web.  8 December 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/florida-gulf-coast-oil/8015550>.

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"Florida Gulf Coast Oil."  Essaytown.com.  December 4, 2013.  Accessed December 8, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/florida-gulf-coast-oil/8015550.