First Katrina, now this. You have to feel for the people of the Gulf.

Ignoring all environmental concerns, the economic impact of the BP (NYSE: BP) oil spill is horrific, particularly on fishermen and tourism industries whose livelihood has been wrecked.

But if the goal is to protect the economy, be careful what you wish for when calling for drilling moratoriums and other tactics to eradicate Big Oil's offshore presence from the region. The truth is, Louisiana's economy relies on oil production far more than other industries that some are trying to protect:


Contribution to Louisiana's GDP (2007)

Forestry, fishing, and related activities

$613 million

Amusement, gambling, and recreation

$2.0 billion

Accommodation and food services

$5.5 billion

Oil and gas extraction

$20.9 billion

Petroleum and coal products manufacturing

$16.3 billion

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis.

That isn't to say BP isn't responsible, or that practices by drillers like Transocean (NYSE: RIG) shouldn't be thoroughly scrutinized and overhauled. Just remember that behind every bumbling, ill-spoken, safety-slashing BP executive are thousands of workers who rely on offshore drilling. The unintended consequences could be more tragic than what we're trying to prevent.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.