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Authors

Mark Davis

Abstract

The explosion and blowout of the BP Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico dominated much of the news and public discussion during the late spring and summer of 2010. The size and scale of the blowout and its effects on people, communities, and the environment produced loud calls for deep changes in the nation’s energy and environmental laws and policies. While some things have changed, the wide ranging changes that many expected have not yet come to pass; indeed if anything the momentum has shifted to letting aggressive oil and gas development resume and to leave the fundamental regulatory framework in place. This article argues that this result is anything but surprising and that the prevailing legal and policy architecture is designed to withstand changing circumstances, even catastrophic ones like the Deepwater Horizon blowout. Changing, much less improving, safety and environmental stewardship practices, will take concerted and focused action that may only take root after future disasters.

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