One of the economic implications of oil spills being experienced in the gulf coast is destruction of livelihoods. Many families living near the shores of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi depend on the beach as a source of livelihood (Appleton, 2010). Tourist beaches which act as major source of livelihood for beach families have been destroyed by oil mousse and tar balls on the shores (Appleton, 2010). Families living on the beach or near the beaches derive their food from the sea. With oil spills into the sea, the ecosystem which provides food to these families is destroyed thereby leaving the families with not source of food.
Moreover, oil spills have an economic effect on jobs (Appleton, 2010). There are a lot of fishermen on the Gulf coast whose job is fishing. Most marine life is destroyed by oil as well as the fishing grounds. The families depending on fishing jobs are left with not source of employment and their retirement plans are destroyed. Oil spills also result into displacement of families who live near the beaches (coastal communities) since the shorelines where these families have built their house are washed (Graythen, 2011). In addition, the economic implication of oil spills is on pace of development. The economic development rate of families who have for years built their lives on the beach by investing in various activities such as fishing and tourism is slowed down when oil mousse and tar balls reach the shores.
With oil mousse and tar balls reaching the shores, the sleepy coastal communities are likely to loss their habitats (Tracy, 2010). Lack of habitation for a community has great economic implication in terms of development of the affected area and the region as a whole. Due to the misery caused by oil spills along the gulf coast, many communities living along the coast suffer psychologically thereby slowing down the rate of involvement in economic development activities. According to an article published in June 2010 by Newsweek, presence of oil on the surface can cause environmental harm through greenhouse gases, brine and haemorrhaging oil (Tracy, 2010). Therefore, the entire community in the affected areas is like to suffer problems related to environmental degradation.
One of the economic implications of oil spills to the state is income. Statistics reveal that nearly 185 million gallons of oil have been lost through the spills (Grills, 2010). This is a big loss in terms of revenue that the state's government would have earned if this oil did not spill and instead, it was sold to various users within the state. Politically, the state has been blamed for failing to take adequate measure to prevent the spills. Lack of competent government regulators for deepwater drilling has been the main blame place on the government (Grills, 2010). Such blames on the government are likely to discourage investors into the oil industry and thereby reducing government revenue from the industry.
One of the government's and corporation's responsibilities to the families is to provide compensation for the economic loss they have suffered. The government and the corporation also have a responsibility of controlling the current spills so as reduce the magnitude of its effects to the families. Apart from controlling the spills, they also have the responsibility of finding an everlasting solution so as to bring the disaster to an end. Moreover, apart from monetary compensation, the government and the corporation have a responsibility of providing the families with alternative sources of livelihoods as well as rebuilding their lost homes and businesses.
Cases of oil spills can be dated back in the 20th century (around 1910) in the southern end of California (Graythen, 2011). Around 9 million barrels of oil were lost although the California State government was able to control it after 18 months of spilling. The Gulf case is nothing to compare to the 1910 case (meaning it can be contained), yet no appropriate measures have so far been taken to completely control the disaster. As the disaster continues, thousands and thousands of lives continue to be disrupted while pay checks worth millions of money continue to be lost in the fishing and tourist industries. As communities living along the Gulf coast continue to suffer, the environmental impact of the disaster is yet to be established.
According to Professor William Savage of Yale, an environment scholar, the environmental impact of the current oil spill disaster cannot be told until the disaster is over. However, President Obama and other senior government official termed the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as the "worst environmental disaster America has ever faced" (Gillis, 2010). Therefore, it is important for the government, the environmentalists and the oil corporation to liaise together in controlling and finding a solution to the disaster instead of waiting to see the future environmental impacts of the disaster.