What’s wrong with today?
The White House says the government will lift a moratorium on deep water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico "very soon."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the government is close to having the necessary plans in place to lift the ban that was imposed after the Gulf oil spill.
The administration imposed new rules to make offshore drilling safer late last month, but said at the time that it was not yet ready to lift the moratorium. The new rules take effect immediately and include requirements that oil rigs certify that they have working blowout preventers and standards for cementing wells. The cementing process and blowout preventer both failed to work as expected in the Gulf spill.
As I wrote when the new rules were published, there was absolutely no reason why they couldn’t have been implemented on a rig-by-rig, case-by-case basis between the May 27 imposition of the Deepwater Drilling Moratorium and today’s announcement.
The regime could easily have allowed the safest, best equipped rigs keep working while older, less well equipped rigs were inspected and retrofitted as necessary. There was never a need to shut off the flow of oil and gas from the Gulf of Mexico, threaten tens of thousands of jobs and cost the nation billions in economic output.
Instead, drilling companies began the inevitable exodus, sailing for the coasts of Egypt and the Republic of Congo, where regulations are much laxer and where the resources to combat a repeat of the Macondo disaster simply don’t exist.