The above map via TPM shows the system of natural gas pipelines in the US, and while it doesn't show oil wells, it very plainly illustrates the intensity with which the Gulf region has been mined for natural resources. I remember when I first flew into Houston, TX (my home for 7 years), I couldn't believe how many refineries and chemical plants lined the city's shores.
This map of US refineries also tells the tale;
The Texas and Louisiana Coasts are some of the most intensely industrialized shorelines in the world and the region is no stranger to BP enabled industrial calamity. Odds are that at some point something like the current oil spill crisis was going to happen and odds are that it was going to happen in the Gulf. It's a testament to the skill of workers in the industry that there hasn't been more calamity.
The remarkable thing is that even in the midst of all the industrial development along the Gulf Coast, in my experience, the waters of the Gulf are a thriving ecosystem of fish and sea life. I was big into kayak fishing and remember vividly the experience of being right on top of the water with thousands of mullet jumping in a fury all around me while predators harassed them from below. I remember throwing a bait cast net into the surf of Galveston with fish slicing through the waves. I've never seen so much active sea life in a body of water.
I guess the question is, while the Gulf has shown itself to be a remarkably resilient ecosystem despite all the industrial activity, at what point can it not adapt and bounce back like it has in the past. How much is too much for it to handle? It looks like we're going to find out.