National Commission Spill Report: Too Anti-Drilling Instead of Anti-Spilling

by Ben Lieberman on January 19, 2011

in Blog

The BP Deepwater Horizon Spill Commission report is out and its recommendations would spell bad news both for energy industry jobs and the future price at the pump.   The administration-selected panel, dominated by anti-drilling activists but devoid of anyone with actual experience producing energy, proposes to pile new layers of red tape onto a process that already leaves much domestic energy off-limits and creates years of delays for rest.    It even includes measures that would virtually shut down new oil drilling in Alaska, though the spill occurred thousands of miles away and under very different conditions in the Gulf of Mexico.

But buried in the report is an important truth – the spill occurred because of a series of blunders by BP and its contractors and was far from inevitable.   This contrasts sharply with the recommendations suggesting systemic problems to be fixed by an industry-wide crackdown.

There is ample reason to believe – along with the powerful circumstantial argument that the deadly April 20th explosion and subsequent oil spill is unique amidst the thousands of offshore wells drilled in Gulf – that this incident was due to gross mismanagement and is not a justification for closing the door further on domestic drilling.

The American public is more worried about a repeat of $4.00 gas than a repeat of Deepwater Horizon – and rightly so as the former is vastly more likely than the latter.  Reasonable changes to improve safety are warranted, but should occur in the context of a policy that ensures expanded offshore drilling.   To do this, Congress should not adopt the report’s recommendations or allow Obama regulators to impose them.

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