Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation : Vol. 26, No. 2, p. 509-534 : Administering America’s Offshore Oil Fields: How Fewer, Performance-Based Regulations Can Produce Better Results
Part I of this Comment introduces the facts behind the BP disaster and compares the legal and legislative reactions to the Exxon Valdez and the Deepwater Horizon spills. Parts II–III document the development of the 1990 Oil Pollution Act and consider the Act’s effectiveness in preventing offshore spills. In Part IV, this Comment investigates current legislative reform efforts and explores their potential for effectiveness. Part V delves into the history of the Minerals Management Service and explains how its contradictory mission and subsequent regulatory failings contributed to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Parts VI–VIII compare and contrast prescriptive versus performance-based regulatory regimes, utilizing the British and Norwegian models as case studies. Part IX advocates for the implementation of a performance-based regulatory regime in the United States and considers the feasibility of utilizing administrative rulemaking to accomplish this goal. Generally, this Comment will touch upon how partisan legislation and overly prescriptive regulations have halted effective safety improvements and technological development in the American offshore oil industry.