Oil offered financial opportunities for some, both then and now. The economic impact of introducing petroleum jobs to an area previously dependent upon farming, fishing and other forms of agriculture, cannot be overstated. The ripple effects of the financial gains are complex and varied, accounting for a form of rigid loyalty from many of those on the receiving end.
"In the case of former employees of the Standard Oil Refinery in Baton Rouge people who would have worked during the time that Stryker's photographers visited the facility it's hard to find retirees and their children who speak ill of what is now ExxonMobil," said Pasquier. "It's a kind of ingrained respect for a company that provided direct access to middle class America. Not surprisingly, economic forces are hard to argue with."
Pasquier tracked down several of those featured in the Standard Oil photos, and upon interviewing them, learned a few things that might be first perceived as counter-intuitive.
But once he realized how big the story was and how complex Pasquier joined forces with LSU's Coastal Sustainability Studio, in order to determine the intersections between people, land and water and oil.
"Most Louisianans feel the dangers associated with drilling are necessary for the state's economy. That's why so many people here reacted so strongly to the offshore drilling moratorium," said Pasquier. "The oil spill isn't just a one-off event. Most people know that there are environmental risks associated with the exploration, extraction and refinement of oil, but, in talking with residents, it's a risk many people are comfortable taking."
However, Pasquier said, "that isn't to say that people aren't asking themselves serious questions, ethical
|Contact: Ashley K. Berthelot|
Louisiana State University