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The US National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling reviews, in painstaking detail, the pervasive arrogance, stupidity, and greed that led to the Gulf explosion and spill last spring.  They recognize that future spills, such as in the Arctic, could do even more damage. They demand massive reform and far more regulation. And at the end, they call happily for lots more offshore drilling; after all, then it will be “safe”.

The Commission claims to recognize that “complex systems almost always fail in complex ways”. But its conclusions look like the conclusions of almost any inquiry into any disaster:

“• The explosive loss of the Macondo well could have been prevented.

• The immediate causes of the Macondo well blowout can be traced to a series of identifiable mistakes made by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean that reveal such systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry.

• Deepwater energy exploration and production, particularly at the frontiers of experience, involve risks for which neither industry nor government has been adequately prepared, but for which they can and must be prepared in the future.

• To assure human safety and environmental protection, regulatory oversight of leasing, energy exploration, and production require reforms even beyond those significant reforms already initiated since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Fundamental reform will be needed in both the structure of those in charge of regulatory oversight and their internal decisionmaking process to ensure their political autonomy, technical expertise, and their full consideration of environmental protection concerns.

• Because regulatory oversight alone will not be sufficient to ensure adequate safety, the oil and gas industry will need to take its own, unilateral steps to increase dramatically safety throughout the industry, including self-policing mechanisms that supplement governmental enforcement.

• The technology, laws and regulations, and practices for containing, responding to, and cleaning up spills lag behind the real risks associated with deepwater drilling into large, high-pressure reservoirs of oil and gas located far offshore and thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface. Government must close the existing gap and industry must support rather than resist that effort.

• Scientific understanding of environmental conditions in sensitive environments in deep Gulf waters, along the region’s coastal habitats, and in areas proposed for more drilling, such as the Arctic, is inadequate. The same is true of the human and natural impacts of oil spills.

We reach these conclusions, and make necessary recommendations, in a constructive spirit: we aim to promote changes that will make American offshore energy exploration and production far safer, today and in the future.”

National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling

• The explosive loss of the Macondo well could have been prevented.

• The immediate causes of the Macondo well blowout can be traced to a series of identifiable mistakes made by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean that reveal such systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry.

• Deepwater energy exploration and production, particularly at the frontiers of experience, involve risks for which neither industry nor government has been adequately prepared, but for which they can and must be prepared in the future.

• To assure human safety and environmental protection, regulatory oversight of leasing, energy exploration, and production require reforms even beyond those significant reforms already initiated since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Fundamental reform will be needed in both the structure of those in charge of regulatory oversight and their internal decisionmaking process to ensure their political autonomy, technical expertise, and their full consideration of environmental protection concerns.

• Because regulatory oversight alone will not be sufficient to ensure adequate safety, the oil and gas industry will need to take its own, unilateral steps to increase dramatically safety throughout the industry, including self-policing mechanisms that supplement governmental enforcement.

• The technology, laws and regulations, and practices for containing, responding to, and cleaning up spills lag behind the real risks associated with deepwater drilling into large, high-pressure reservoirs of oil and gas located far offshore and thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface. Government must close the existing gap and industry must support rather than resist that effort.

• Scientific understanding of environmental conditions in sensitive environments in deep Gulf waters, along the region’s coastal habitats, and in areas proposed for more drilling, such as the Arctic, is inadequate. The same is true of the human and natural impacts of oil spills.

We reach these conclusions, and make necessary recommendations, in a constructive spirit: we aim to promote changes that will make American offshore energy exploration and production far safer, today and in the future…

Drilling in deepwater does not have to be abandoned. It can be done safely. That is one of the central messages of this report. The reforms proposed herein are intended to do for this industry what new policies and practices have done for other high-risk industries after their disasters.”

It seems like hubris to me.

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