Oil in Troubled Waters

Perceptions, Politics, and the Battle Over Offshore Drilling

By William R. Freudenburg & Robert Gramling

Subjects: Environmental Studies
Series: SUNY series in Environmental Public Policy
Paperback : 9780791418826, 179 pages, April 1994
Hardcover : 9780791418819, 179 pages, April 1994

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Table of contents

List of Acronyms

List of Photographs


1. Dawn of Discord

2. Getting to Gridlock

3. The Citizens Speak

4. Probing the Paradox

5. Spinning and Slipping

6. A Framework for the Future?

7. Ideology and Impacts

Appendix. The Legal Context




In some coastal regions of the United States, such as western Louisiana, offshore oil development has long been welcomed. In others, such as northern California, it has been vehemently opposed. This book explores the reasons behind this paradox, looking at the people, the regions, and the issues in sociological and historical contexts.

What has been in very short supply on this issue, as in a growing number of other cases of technological gridlock, is balanced analysis. That is what this book provides. The authors' case studies, derived from interviews with Louisiana and California residents and from environmental impact statements, demonstrate that easy answers are not the most valid ones. The region that should be considered unusual, they find, is coastal Louisiana, where historical, social, and environmental factors combine to favor the offshore oil industry. But this combination of factors, they argue, is unlikely to be found in other coastal regions of the U. S. in the near future.

William R. Freudenburg is Professor of Rural Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He served for six years on the Scientific Advisory Committee of offshore oil drilling for the U. S. Department of Interior. Robert Gramling is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Socioeconomic Research at the University of Southwestern Louisiana and has served on an advisory panel on federal offshore oil leasing for the National Academy of Sciences.


"This book is extremely well written, so that it reads like an interesting story, even as it chronicles the intermingling of a complex set of cultural, historical, political, economic, and technological factors. It is an excellent sociological analysis which challenges the reader's taken-for-granted assumptions about the nature of offshore drilling and carefully documents the reasons behind the different perceptions and experiences of California and Louisiana residents. The current status of offshore drilling is meaningfully framed by a cultural history of the political economy of the two states. " — Jean Blocker, University of Tulsa