California's Oil Spill Prevention and Cleanup Preparedness—Anatomy of an Emerging Public Policy

by Brian E. Baird, California Coastal Commission, San Francisco, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '91


This paper provides a discussion and analysis of the development of oil spill prevention and cleanup policy in California, particularly as it evolved after the major oil spills in the 1980's and in 1990. A pattern of disaster, investigation, policy or law formation, and implementation is found to occur over and over. Productive and useful changes occur as a result of this repeating process, but the overall limitations in spill technology for response to major spill events remains a fact of life. There are no simple solutions which work every time with every spill, and spill response in the open ocean is still relatively primitive. The public must not have unrealistic expectations regarding the latest improvements at the federal, state, local, and industry level in spill prevention and cleanup.

Subject Headings: Hazardous materials spills | Public policy | Coastal management | Water pollution | Waste sites | Lifeline systems | Ocean engineering | Federal government | California | United States

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