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Follow the Oil


11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Economics, Civics, Geography

Resource Types

  • Interactive Media
  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - South, Louisiana

Follow the Oil

Ask a Question

  • This interactive platform allows students to explore oil and gas infrastructure maps in Louisiana over time and learn about how the fossil fuel industry has affected the state.
  • Students read an interactive article about the history of oil and gas in Louisiana and its impact on the environment and use an interactive tool to see each of the region's oil and gas-related permits.
Teaching Tips


  • This resource uses interactive, engaging tools and storytelling to explain and visualize data.
  • The interactive tool maps out every well, pipeline, flowline, and canal on the coast of Louisiana, according to publicly available data.
  • The resource demonstrates that the negative impacts of the fossil fuel industry are not limited to emissions.

Additional Prerequisites

  • You will need to click "Follow the oil" to read the article and "Explore on your own" to access the interactive tool.
  • Students should read the article before using the interactive tool.
  • Instructions on how to use the tool are available in the "Info" section.
  • This resource requires access to the Internet.


  • Before reading the article, ask students what they know about the fossil fuel industry and its history. After using the interactive tool, ask students what surprised them most about what they learned.
  • To ensure students get the most out of the tool, have them select a well, pipeline, or canal and investigate its history and effects on the local area and people. Students can present their findings to the class.
  • After the lesson, have students share if and how what they learned has changed their perspective on the fossil fuel industry and the products and industries that rely on it.
  • To learn more about the fossil fuel industry, watch this video on the rise of fossil fuels and climate change and this video about a global treaty to phase out fossil fuels.
Scientist Notes
This resource presents an interactive map and a visual look at how oil and gas extraction has shaped the landscape of coastal Louisiana. Throughout, attention is given to how the pursuit of profits by transnational oil companies impacts communities of color. This resource is visually stunning and is based on the most up to date information from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. The interactive map is particularly a valuable tool as it allows the flow of oil to be tracked at the parish level and on varying time scales. This resource provides an eye-opening look at the history of oil and gas production in Louisiana and is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-2 Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
      • HS-ESS3-3 Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.1.9-12 Use geospatial and related technologies to create maps to display and explain the spatial patterns of cultural and environmental characteristics.
    • Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
      • D4.6.9-12 Use disciplinary and interdisciplinary lenses to understand the characteristics and causes of local, regional, and global problems; instances of such problems in multiple contexts; and challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address these problems over time and place.
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