Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Play On

And in an obvious demonstration of our society proudly not learning anything, ever, a Federal judge has found a constitutional right for oil companies to drill. That's right folks, we now return you to your regularly scheduled potential for human and environmental catastrophe. Mistakes are inconcievable, and America is beginning to experience oil spill fatigue.

Hearing about it again and again is such downer, dontcha know? We don't want more pictures of oil soaked Southern beaches, we want to see the steamy scenes from The Bachelorette.

Look, I know we were going to have to start drilling again, sometime. The political reality isn't drill-baby-drill vs. no-drilling-ever, after all. Our whole society is set up to feast on oil, and that's a bi-partisan belief.

But with all that is going on, we can't hit the pause button and run a few safety checks? That's too much to ask?

I wish it were that simple. A straight-up drilling ban was a bad idea in the first place made with a nod to politics and had very little to do with safety.

Here's why: Obama offered up expanded drilling earlier this year as a political-reality-based part of his energy plans*. When the Deepwater Horizon immolated, he had to create political distance between himself and his policy* and reversed himself with a six month ban on new drilling**. Unfortunately, this is a political and economic non-starter as a part of policy. As much as I would appreciate a six month ban to make safety a larger priority across the board, I don't trust that our government can effectively regulate this industry in six months by acting alone.

A more results-oriented approach would be to really knuckle down on safety enforcement on drilling rigs. The majority of what needs to be done is to enforce existing laws and ordinances. The few new regulations that need to be considered (acoustic triggers on blow-out preventers, automatic relief well drilling, outside insurers, etc) could be added to the new enforcement mechanisms.

Because we're obviously rebuilding our regulatory enforcement of drilling from scratch at this point.

This does not require a six-month*** moratorium on all drilling. It does require anyone who wants to start drilling to pass an exhausive safety check with flying colors. What better way to reward those who are doing the right thing and punishing those who are not living up to their responsibilities?

Is it perfect? Hell, no. But it gets people to work and it gets the oil companies heavily invested in doing whatever they needed to do to get back to drilling for oil. Use that incentive to acheive your policy goals.

It is a shame we have zero political options offering us that choice.+


* Republicans, emtionally overinvested in hating the President, despised the idea of Obama allowing more drilling on the grounds he wouldn't allow more drilling fast enough.

** Republicans, emotionally overinvested in hating the President, depised the idea of Obama limiting more drilling and possibly requring the oil drilling industry to adhere to actual regulations.

*** Or more

+ Please note that post is critical of Democrats and Republicans as they relate to irrational policy development. I hope it serves to point out the bipartisan nature of our national dysfunction, while at the same time enumerating why I think Republican policies represent the far-worst options. Thank you.



patsbrother said...

I missed the part about the Constitution.


Dante said...

I'm looking into this now trying to figure out what exactly Obama is doing that is wrong. The executive branch handles the giving out of drilling permits (surely with the usual Congressional oversights). Why can't they deny permits so long as they are not discriminating against any particular group? Can anyone explain what is legally wrong with the moratorium, even if it is arbitrary? All the media I've seen so far on the subject has latched onto the what and glossed over the why.

Dante said...

Thanks, pb. I didn't see your post before posting my own comment.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Wow. Good link. Especially this part:

There is no suggestion that the Secretary considered any alternatives: for example, an individualized suspension of activities on target rigs until they reached compliance with the new federal regulations said to be recommended for immediate implementation.

E.J. said...

This is all so very frustrating. People want honest politicians, but can't handle complicated truths. I don't want folks losing their jobs, but I don't want another spill either.