Oil on the Edge

Offshore Development, Conflict, Gridlock

By Robert Gramling

Subjects: Public Policy
Paperback : 9780791426944, 208 pages, October 1995
Hardcover : 9780791426937, 208 pages, November 1995

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Table of contents

List of Tables

List of Figures


Prologue Traveling Through Time

1. Developing the Demand

2. The Early Technology and Politics of Offshore Oil

3. Moving Offshore

4. Political Storm Clouds

5. Boom and Bust in the Gulf

6. Rising Political Controversy

7. The Florida Conflict

Epilogue: Offshore Oil at the Edge

Appendix: Selected Portions of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendments





The federal offshore oil leasing program has generated more than billion for the federal government, and the Outer Continental Shelf represents the greatest potential for oil and gas reserves remaining in the United States. But most U.S. coastal states oppose offshore development, and the battle resulting from these conflicting forces has raged through the last five presidential administrations and concurrent sessions of Congress. This book tells the history of the debate, puts it in perspective, and explores the prospects for future development. It traces the factors that led to the ascendancy of oil as an energy source, the emergence of the technology that made undersea extraction possible, the political forces that led to the dramatic offshore boom in the Gulf of Mexico, and the national policies that eventually produced the closing of virtually all offshore federal lands to the agency created within the Department of Interior to exploit them.

Robert Gramling is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Socioeconomic Impacts at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He is the co-author (with William R. Freudenberg) of Oil in Troubled Waters: Perceptions, Politics, and the Battle Over Offshore Drilling, also published by SUNY Press.


"This book beautifully interweaves stories of technology, institutions, localities, environment, politics, and international gaming. The story of oil development is a difficult one to tell well, precisely because it involves so many intricately woven micro-stories, so to say that Gramling has done a great job is to say he's accomplished something significant. The stories are told with grace and clarity, even occasional wit, so the reader flows through the book with considerable ease. The consequences of how oil has developed in the U.S., indeed the entire world, are terribly important, and Gramling manages to convey these consequences without the hyperbole that infuses other works on oil development, oil politics, and the environment. From world-systems to local perceptions of risk, Gramling takes us on a tour of the single most fateful resource in the earth's history."— Lee Clarke, Rutgers University

"Oil on the Edge is an extremely well-written and informative account of economic and social issues in offshore oil development. Gramling uses a highly effective narrative style to report on and assess historical developments affecting offshore oil production and its effects on the economy and the environment. He draws usefully from sociological concepts to illuminate a fact-filled account of the offshore oil business from its earliest days to its present crisis in the mid-1990s when the nation has virtually ceased such production." — Michael E. Kraft, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay