In the Wake of the Spill: Environmental Views Along the Gulf Coast


  • The Community and Environment in Rural America (CERA) Gulf survey was supported by grants from the Carsey Institute and the Vice Provost for Research at the University of New Hampshire. Sampling and interviews were done by the UNH Survey Center. We thank two reviewers for their comments on an earlier draft.

Direct correspondence to Lawrence Hamilton, Department of Sociology, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824 〈〉.



We analyze patterns in environmental views of Gulf Coast residents, in the wake of the 2010 oil spill. To what extent do spill-related and other environmental views vary with individual characteristics, personal experience with the spill, or characteristics of place?


About 2,000 residents of selected coastal regions in Louisiana and Florida were interviewed by telephone in late summer 2010.


One-quarter of the respondents said that their environmental views had changed as a result of the spill. Despite reporting more change, more spill effects, and greater threats from climate-induced sea-level rise, Louisiana respondents were less likely to support a deepwater moratorium, alternative energy, or resource conservation.


Results are consistent with real effects from the spill. Differences between Louisiana and Florida respondents are not explained by spill effects or individual characteristics, however. The patterns reflect biophysical differences of the coastlines that shaped their socioeconomic development.