Tuesday, July 13, 2010

El Presidente's Deepwater Horizon commission goes off the reservation

Uh oh.  Can this be good news for a regime trying to stay on a message that deepwater drilling is so unsafe that it needs to be "paused," the economic consequences be damned?  In today's proceedings, both of the Co-Chairs expressed bewilderment over the inability of regulators to shorten the moratorium's duration and minimize the economic effects.  Or, maybe it's all show and no go.
The co-chairmen of a presidential commission said Tuesday that moving testimony about the economic damage caused by President Obama's drilling moratorium has convinced them to press the issue.

In fact, one of the co-chairs, former Environmental Protection Agency chief William Reilly, said he can't understand why more hasn't been done to shorten the moratorium, which has been the subject of a federal court battle and now extends through Nov. 30.

"I come to this experience with a much greater sense of the economic dislocation being experienced here than I had three days ago" before the commission began hearings in New Orleans, Reilly said at a midday news conference. "It's not clear for me why it should take so long to reassure oneself about (safety) considerations on those rigs."

Former Florida Senator Bob Graham said that he was disturbed by a "disconnect between Washington and the Gulf region about the sense of urgency needed."

While this commission has subpoena power, that's about the only clout it has. Its job isn't to affect policy, but to examine the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon Incident and make specific engineering and safety recommendations to reduce the likelihood of another such disaster. That would make perfect sense, if anyone on the commission had experience in offshore drilling safety or petroleum engineering. None of them do--they're all policy wonks. As was posted here yesterday, the commission had to be reminded what its job was.

Reilly and Graham may have gone off teleprompter today, but don't expect anything to come of it. This is just a dog and pony show, designed to distract the public while deepwater drilling assets are moved out of the Gulf and into the waters off the coast of Africa.

Gimme some feedback in the comments.