Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Interdisciplinary Studies


Honors College

First Advisor

Deborah Hutchinson


An insatiable thirst for oil has led poorly coordinated, risk-prone megasystems deeper into the ocean in search of new oil reserves. Profit-driven agendas at the corporate level have a top-down effect within these megasystems. Cost-cutting and risk-downplaying leaves the field employees unprepared to handle emergencies. A series of costly mistakes led to the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which caused extensive damage to an already fragile ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico. The wealth and political influence of the oil industry overpowers lax regulatory agencies and legislation-even though media and research has exposed frustrating parallels between the Deepwater Horizon spill and previous spills in terms of causation and impaired response capabilities. The need to improve environmental review and legislation is apparent. Effective emergency response requires better coordination of collaborative assessment and restoration efforts, and honest, objective communication between all parties involved. Restoration should take the entire ecosystem and its surrounding communities into consideration. Accurate monetary valuations of nature are impossible, and the best method of preservation is prevention.