Hari M. Osofsky

Subject Area

Labor and Employment Law; Energy Law; Environmental Law; International Law


This Article explores the governance challenges posed by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and proposes strategies for developing more inclusive, responsive institutions to help meet them. It begins by analyzing the incident through five core dimensions-vertical, horizontal, direction of hierarchy, cooperativeness, and public- private-to demonstrate the multilevel, multiactor interactions taking place in offshore drilling and oil spill regulation. It then explains the ways in which the complex interactions in these dimensions translate into four core governance challenges: scientific and legal uncertainty, simultaneous overlap and fragmentation, the difficulties of balancing efficiency and inclusion, and inequality and resulting injustice. The Article next integrates conceptual approaches from several disciplines to propose three principles for better multidimensional governance: hybridity, multiscalar inclusion, and responsiveness. It evaluates reform proposals made in the aftermath of the spill in light of those strategies. It considers the extent to which citizens’ councils, regulatory burden-shifting, voluntary industry-based regulatory institutions, and independent scientific and technical review bodies should complement efforts to make the federal process more rigorous and adaptive. The Article concludes by discussing the broader applicability of its analysis of multidimensional governance challenges.