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Abstract: Offshore Environmental Risks, Perceptions, and "Corrective" Legislation

G. Rogge Marsh

The offshore petroleum industry in the United States has been subject to intense scrutiny ever since the first barge left the dock. Various interest groups have pointed out every possible negative event that could occur in marine petroleum operations, apparently employing the theory that if a circumstance can be imagined, it will likely happen. And, if the event happens, its impact on the environment will probably be ruinous.

Congress has responded to these concerns, frequently in inappropriate and punitive ways. Over the past 40 yr of federal legislation, Congress' attitude has moved from one of aiding offshore exploration and development to one of seeming to stifle it.

This paper will look at the potential for environmental endangerment in the outer continental shelf, the causes for the public's disproportionate concern, the progression of legislation to address these concerns, its effect on the offshore industry and, finally, what geologists can do to help ameliorate what has become an almost untenable exploration environment.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90983©1994 GCAGS and Gulf Coast SEPM 44th Annual Meeting, Austin, Texas, October 6-7, 1994