Matt Brown

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Summer 2003


Wolcott’s book focuses on the small town of Avila Beach and how its citizens, upon learning that they were sitting on top of a large oil plume, fought to have Unocal, the company that had supported the town for so long, clean up the mess. At the center of the action are the lawyers and the bureaucrats who go up against the mighty corporation. The book describes how the environmental lawyers, the water experts, county and state politicians, state and county bureaucrats, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the California Attorney General’s Office among others gathered their forces and used the full legal and regulatory arsenal at their disposal to hold Unocal responsible. Unocal, as it could be imagined, using its mantra of “spend no dime before its time” fought these gathered forces tooth and nail not to be held responsible for the oil plume.