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    oil spills great and small..., 2010-06-03 07:11:35 | Main | throwing shit at the wall until something sticks..., 2010-06-03 16:12:46

    the barry sometimes rots on the shrub:

    Poor ole Obama is really taking a lot of shit for his predecessor's mismanagement of the oil sector, which is to say the oil sector's mismanagement of the oil sector. But there's a fair amount of defensive nattering about what the government is supposed to do about the BP oil spill, suggesting that they can't do anything either. Without looking-forward-not-backward to the regulatory capture of the Minerals Management Service and so forth, here's a few things the Administration already should have done:

    1. It should have give the Presidential Commission subpoena power, and should help get the information local environmental organizations are demanding to the broader scientific, industrial, environmental, regulatory communities and, like, the public. BP has been tight-lipped when it hasn't been outright dishonest - about the size of the spill, about the chemical dispersant, etc. - which can't be helping local industries respond to the disaster, let alone state and local cleanup efforts.
    2. Revoke their limited liability. The companies involved are legally obligated to maximize profits and shareholder value (which is why BP is wasting money employing temporary workers for photo-ops rather than... work), a limited liability cap of cleanup plus $75 million in damages creates perverse incentives regarding both safety and mitigation. That's an absurd pittance for an industry where BP alone has operating revenues over $200 billion a year, for a disaster likely to wipe out generations of Gulf Coast fishermen. While it's too late for BP to get coverage, they'll just have to serve as a spectacular advertisement for the insurance industry.
    3. If congress is unwilling or unable to revoke the caps it's hard to see how we could fix the misaligned incentives between the public and private interests at stake without the Administration putting BP under temporary receivership. Simply threatening to do so, actually, would probably be enough to exculpate BP et.al. from their legal obligations to the bottom line.

      Threatening new laws is so much handwaving when we haven't enforced the laws we already have, particularly when a good portion of the legislature owe their seats to the industry.


:: posted by buermann @ 2010-06-03 08:39:30 CST | link





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