Tuesday, May 18, 2010
It's Obama's fault.
The federal government is the owner of the waters where drilling takes place and bears ultimate responsibility for what happens on its property. Energy companies seeking to develop our natural resources must survive a phalanx of federal regulations before any action can be taken. For starters, any action taken by the federal government, including offshore drilling leases, requires a detailed environmental impact analysis mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). But NEPA is such a draconian law, and the process can be so slow thanks to litigation, that to get anything done the federal government often grants waivers to the NEPA process. Which is exactly what happened with the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in question.
Regulations also require the Interior Department to inspect rigs at regular intervals, and the Deepwater rig was supposedly inspected less than two weeks prior to the accident. The rig's emergency shutoff valve, which reportedly had a dead battery, also passed inspection just 10 days before it failed. In addition to these intrusively written but leniently enforced regulations, the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 set a $75 million liability cap beyond direct cleanup costs for any offshore oil spill. The net result of all of all these policies is a situation where nobody is responsible for safety because everybody is.
One question. What would the media be saying if this had happened under President Bush's watch?