I was reading a story over at the Huffington Post about a couple of bills being developed in Congress that will impose stricter regulations on offshore drilling as well as entirely lift the liability cap for oil spills. Towards the end of the article I was struck by this paragraph:

Republican Sens. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and David Vitter of Louisiana, said the more stringent spill response requirements and removal altogether of the economic liability cap would cause all but the largest oil companies to abandon offshore oil drilling.
Inhofe (well-known lunatic) and Vitter (well-known for his connection to a D.C. madam) were right, even if they were using the point to argue against tighter regulations and a lifted liability cap. If we require oil companies to take every measure possible to ensure safe deepwater drilling and also be able to pay for the cleanup if they screw up, only the largest oil companies will drill in deep waters.

Isn't that the way it should be?

Drilling for oil in deep water is hard, and fixing problems when they pop up is even harder. We don't want anyone but that biggest oil companies with the deepest pockets drilling in the deepest waters. We also need to slap a ton of regulations on deepwater drilling and make companies develop and deploy a realistic plan for responding to accidents.

In the end only a handful of the largest companies will be able to bankroll deepwater drilling, which should have the dual benefits of keeping down the overall number of deepwater drills as well as ensuring that the existing wells are run as safely as possible. Given the scope of the damages caused by an oil spill, doesn't that make sense?

Bankrupting BP wouldn't be a bad idea either — maybe the threat of being destroyed will help keep other corporate oil boards in check.

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