Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Science and Policy

First Advisor

Janet Grigsby




environmental risk, human activity, oil, fracking, regulations


History demonstrates the dangers of ignoring the environmental risks that correspond to resource extraction, especially in precarious locations. This project analyzed three cases: (1) the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, (2) the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and (3) the current question of hydraulic fracturing in New York’s Marcellus Shale. The case studies assessed whether policies for protecting the environment from the risks of human activity have improved and whether such policies can be made both economically efficient and environmentally less risky. While the Exxon Valdez case demonstrated the dangers of not planning for disaster, it did result in the 1990 Oil Pollution Act [OPA]. Although OPA is requiring BP to fund cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon spill, OPA alone did little to prevent this event from happening. Using these historical examples, New York now has a chance to put better policies in place for the risk-laden technique of hydraulic fracturing. Economic pressures mean hydraulic fracturing is almost a certainty. This project argues that the State must require that extremely precautionary policies and strict regulations be implemented before drilling.