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Accepted Paper:

Transforming the bays: the oil industry and environmental change on the coast of Texas during the twentieth century  
Blake Earle (Texas AM University at Galveston)

Paper short abstract:

In the 20th century the coast of Texas became the site of extensive production and refining facilities to support the state’s petrochemical industry. This paper investigates how this development changed the coast's estuarine ecosystems by focusing on the degradation of the state’s shellfisheries.

Paper long abstract:

From the discovery of oil at Spindletop in 1901 the coastline of Texas radically transformed to meet the needs of the growing petrochemical industry. From production sites, to refineries, to pipelines, to transportation infrastructure, and the myriad ancillary industries that developed to support the oil and gas business, the coast of Texas stretching from Beaumont in the north to Corpus Christi in the south became the home of a thick web of interconnected petrochemical facilities that generated significant wealth while imposing significant costs. The costs were, and still are, borne by the complex of bays and estuaries that define the state’s coastline in the form of petrochemical spills and industrial accidents. This paper investigates the transformations of the coast in response to industrial development and pays particular attention to how this development impacted the fish and shellfish of the region along with the fishermen and communities that relied on those marine resources. While petrochemical companies reaped huge profits from the degradation of the coastline, ecosystems were altered and communities like Palacios, Port Lavaca, and Rockport were forced to adapt to changing economic and ecological circumstances.

Panel Ene07
The Petroleum Century and the Transformation of Global Landscapes
  Session 1 Thursday 22 August, 2024, -