It is high time to evaluate the risks and our legal, regulatory and technical mechanisms for controlling that risk. The negative impact on local jobs is an unfortunate but unavoidable outcome to the necessary reassessment of the escalating risks of offshore oil development in deep water. Assumption by the oil industry of full financial responsibility in all cases would help to limit risk taking behavior and would encourage industry investment in safety technology. That is not the current situation. Currently the oil industry enjoys limits to its financial risk through a congressionally authorized $75 million cap on liability. So the taxpayers can be left holding the bag for substantial cleanup costs from large incidents. The taxpayers certainly have a right to regulatory control if they are expected to pay numerous and substantial tax subsidies for oil exploration and development as well as assume risk for cleanup costs. Indeed the failure of BP to invest in adequate technical capability to immediately stop the flow of oil from a deepwater incident clearly shows the need for more thorough government oversight and for greatly increased industry investment in safety.
This does not mean that we shouldn’t seek a timely conclusion or adjustment to the drilling moratorium.
Haywood (Woody) Martin, Chair, Sierra Club Delta Chapter