They have a point. They will be working less as we work out this mess.
But there's a really quick and easy solution: oil companies can drill in deep water as long as they simultaneously drill relief wells. In the event of a disaster like BP's Deepwater Horizon, a relief well is the only real solution to the problem of a catastrophic oil leak. If BP had been drilling a relief well alongside the main well under the Deepwater Horizon, this thing would have been stopped by now. As it is, we'll have oil gushing out into the seas through the summer and possibly into winter.
Relief wells cost more, but oil companies will just pass the extra costs down the line to consumers. Oil and gasoline will cost more, but it should cost more — it's really nasty stuff when it spills and it costs more money to make sure it doesn't spill. It's about time we started paying the real costs of oil/gasoline.
Oil companies have been fighting against most safety regulations imposed on them by the government. BP's oil spill needs to be the catalyst that drives the government to take back the keys to the car and set strict safety guidelines with penalties big enough to hurt. If an oil company can do something risky to make $1 billion profit while facing a maximum penalty of $50 million, guess what they're going to do every time? They're going to make the risky move, and even if they get caught, they'll probably pay their lawyers $5 million to get the penalty reduced to $20 million.
Safer oil drilling costs more money. We either pay for it or we get used to regular massive oil blow outs. Which would you prefer?