Saturday, May 15, 2010

Changing the Politics of Offshore Drilling?

Yesterday, Obama talked about ending the cozy relationship between oil companies and the agencies that regulate them.

"It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies," Obama said. "That cannot and will not happen anymore. To borrow an old phrase, we will trust, but we will verify."

Obama labeled "a ridiculous spectacle." the congressional testimony this week by executives from BP, the owner of the runaway well; Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that exploded in flames on April 20; and Halliburton, the company that poured cement around the well on the day it exploded. In their testimony, the executives blamed one another for the events that led to the disaster....

He said that the government has ordered immediate inspections of all deepwater operations in the Gulf and won't approve any permits for new drilling pending a review that's due to him on May 28.

He promised a new examination of environmental procedures for oil and gas exploration, but he also said that "domestic oil drilling continues to be one part of an overall energy strategy" that he supports.
One step has already been announced: the Interior Department plans to split the regulatory and royalty duties of the Minerals Management Service. This seems to be a step in the right direction. That move will not mean much, however, if leases continue to be approved without proper environmental reviews or if objections from wildlife agencies are ignored.

It is still not clear how soon the leak can be stopped. The linked articles diagrams for how the "junk shot" and "top hat" might work. Neither method, nor intubation, have been attempted at such depth.