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I’m Puzzled

I just read that the Administration is suspending Arctic drilling. Now, oil exploration and drilling is not exactly an unregulated free-market frenzy. So, if it is dangerous to drill in deep Artic waters, then shouldn’t regulators have realized this before the massive Gulf explosion?

I can’t blame the Administration for showing the public it is “doing something” but it does not exactly give me confidence that the bridges I drive over or the buildings I climb into or the drugs I take will not be compromised as well. But such a problem should make it obvious why federal regulators like the FDA are overly cautious in their proscriptions, usually.

But my puzzle is not that they are doing this now, my puzzle is the genuine belief that more and better regulation can eliminate such problems.

One Response to “I’m Puzzled”

  1. Harry says:

    I’m not sure the regulations are not already there, Wintercow. If the regulations are sensible, then they would take into account the current technology, which would have to come from input from those who are in the business. My worry would be about Carol Browner, who knows nothing about it, yet holds power to dictate whether or not we drill in Arctic waters, or in ANWR, which happens to be on land and is the size of Dulles Airport.

    The current mess in the Gulf of Mexico is a serious problem. From my reading thus far (WSJ today), BP rushed to get an abundant well into production, but it is premature to point the finger of blame, yet alone clarify what needs to be done beyond addressing the present problem. Initial stories implied Halliburton was a culprit, but now we find Halliburton followed BP’s instructions and had objected to BP’s procedures.

    It is not clear to me at all whether drilling at 5,000 feet below sea level is the same challenge as drilling in the Arctic, and I suspect it is far more difficult. Oil companies prefer to drill in the winter, when the surface is frozen, and, with the exception of the Exxon Valdez, which was not a technological problem, has been done without any problems.

    What I see is an effort to ban further exploration, using the disaster in the Gulf as an excuse. Some people want to leave all of our oil and coal in the ground forever.

    I do not want to idly speculate on their motivations, because one can imagine many. I just wish they would be honest in their arguments. For example, do they want us to ride bicycles and burn peat? Or, if not burning peat, how do they realistically expect us to manage, and if that is at a substantially lower standard of living, what is it? Living in the Unabomber’s cabin?

    If BP is negligent, and if justice prevails, BP stockholders and bondholders (I checked–don’t own any of that) will be dealt with accordingly, and eventually the crude washing up on the shores of Louisiana will recover. Meanwhile, I am not confident that our regulators should be invested with more power.

    By the way, presidents have limited power to deal with catastrophes before they happen, and I do not blame any of our rulers for them, including Barack Obama. It is a conceit that we expect our wise men to prevent us from harm. Canute had the same problem. All we can hope is that they do what they are able and not screw things up further.

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