Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Doing Something" About the BP/Halliburton Oil Spill

Kate Sheppard, subbing for Ezra Klein, is casting desperately around for something that someone should be doing in response to the oil spill that they're not doing already. Like many Beltway denizens, she focuses on doing that involves words rather than doing that involves pipe and chains and cement and mud. This is a particular example of a problem that affects the country in various degrees: we swipe our credit cards, pump our gasoline into our cars, pull the receipt, and off we go. No pipes and chains and cement and mud. Easy.

This spill is uncovering the holes in our laws and regulations, and we should be moving to correct those. But that doesn't plug the oil gusher that we have right now.

So the Senate is considering raising the liability cap for such disasters. This is far down the barn-door-horse chain of events, but probably should be done. And oh yeah, we could do some conservation. I hate to tell Kate, but "educating the public" is not the most effective way to get at this. It's going to take economic incentives, like a floor for gasoline prices at, say, $4. But it's going to be a long time before the Senate gets to that one.

On the other end of the fixit, er, pipeline, Derrick Z. Jackson tells us that there's been little or no research done on spill response in deep water. That's because, some long time ago, we took the word of the corporations that oh yes of course they would continue to do research to maintain their competitive edge and please stop those nasty government labs from trying to compete where industry could do a much better job. So tax structures and the sorts of research allowed to government labs and universities were changed, and the flourishing research establishment the United States could boast of during the 1950s and 1960s went away. Maybe we need to rethink that, too.

Twitter feed from Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center (JIC) on Unified Command response efforts to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Does this count as doing something? Yeah, I know, it's not stopping the gusher. (h/t to Jules at Balloon Juice.)

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