This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

June 2, 2010

Far-Reaching Consequences of the BP Oil Spill

Government estimates describe the BP oil spill as the worst in United States' history. The two main effects on the environment will be petroleum and dispersant toxicity and oxygen depletion. These effects will damage fishing and shrimping in the Gulf of Mexico, the regional tourism industry, and the habitat of more than 400 species that live in the islands and marshlands of Louisiana.

So far, the Gulf Oil spill has shut down 50 percent of Louisiana’s oyster production. Louisiana's seafood industry is already suffering losses estimated in the millions. Though according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, only about two percent of seafood consumed in the US originates from the Gulf and about four percent of shrimp, about 26 percent of blue crabs, and about 41 percent of oysters come from Louisiana. Expect seafood prices to rise in both supermarkets and restaurants. It is likely to be three to five years before the environment and fishing/shrimping return to normal.

We will see lost wages and lost jobs. Though the oil spill has not yet affected the price of crude oil, experts still expect increased gas prices, affecting consumers and businesses alike. Certainly tourism along the Gulf Coast will take a hit and property values are likely to decrease. Some hotels and restaurants, already slammed buy the recession, will go out of business. Many people will be injured or develop illnesses as a result of exposure to chemical toxicity or affected seafood.

The oil companies will be discouraged and may even be prevented from off-shore drilling---perhaps permanently. Long term, drilling will be more expensive for oil companies that must embrace new safety standards.

With all of these negative consequences, there is an upside for some. Resorts on the East Coast of Florida and elsewhere may see an increase in tourism. Restaurants serving meat, poultry, and vegetarian fare will have more business, especially local ones. The folks cleaning up the mess will have jobs for months---perhaps years. The stress will create a higher utilization of anti-anxiety drugs as well as antidepressants. Finally, the ensuing litigation will put money into the pockets of many lawyers.

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