This is Part 1 of a paper written following the BP Oil Spill in 2010 regarding US offshore safety. This is the Introductory chapter that explains some of the drilling policy challenges with regards to offshore safety.
Throughout the future, our energy security, economy, and environment are all fundamentally threatened by the status quo of inadequate offshore drilling regulation. On April 20, 2010, a blowout in BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf was responsible for one of the most devastating disasters in American history. It has become apparent that a disaster of this magnitude demonstrates a significant gap in the current regulatory system that the nation uses to regulate offshore drilling activity.
Allowing poor offshore drilling to continue has profound implications for the future of the United States. First of all, the potential environmental impact of additional offshore accidents is truly immense; coral reefs, marine wildlife, and the entire ocean ecosystem were harmed by the Deepwater Horizon blowout. Secondly, the economic consequences of additional accidents are also vast. Following the Deepwater Horizon spill, the seafood and tourism industries were devastated. In addition, President Obama’s subsequent moratorium on deepwater drilling put the jobs of thousands of workers in jeopardy. Thirdly, perhaps the most significant consequence of poor drilling regulation is the danger of permanently ending all offshore drilling activity.
Invariably, as offshore incidents continue to occur, many politicians and environmental groups point out that perhaps offshore drilling has too many inherent dangers to be allowed. The consequences of this move are monumental; without domestic offshore drilling, we would be even more dependent on dictatorships and corrupt governments for most of our energy resources. However, one cannot ignore the concerns of these environmental groups; is offshore drilling really inherently safe, or is drilling safety a problem that can be solved through more effective regulation?
The experiences and successful regulatory systems of other nations across the globe conclusively demonstrate that, yes, offshore drilling can be successfully regulated. The United States would do very well to follow their example.