The federal government’s adoption of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 represented a radical statutory departure from past policy. Coastal oil spill control provisions that had languished for decades within the industry-friendly confines of a few select congressional subcommittees suddenly became law. Much popular belief credits the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill crisis for bringing about this radical policy change. Closer examination reveals that postcrisis policy change is much more complex. Crisis events intermingle with other short- and long-term factors that either inhibit or support dramatic change. This study analyzes change within the coastal spill arena over several decades. Particular attention is given to crisis episodes, periods identified with a major catastrophe or a successive series of attention-getting spills over a brief time. Analysis finds that crises can play an instrumental role in eliciting change.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/kurtz1rs/14/