Yesterday, President Barack Obama called on a federal appeals court to reinstate the moratorium on deepwater drilling. Responding to a complaint filed by the oil industry, a Louisiana judge overturned the ban back on June 24.
If we have learned anything from this spill it is that we know very little about the risks of offshore drilling. Oil companies have proven they do not have the ability to handle these massive disasters. Until mechanisms are put in place that can effectively control and regulate oil extraction, deepwater drilling must remain suspended. Even our best scientists and workers cannot handle one oil spill. We certainly couldn’t even begin to handle two, especially during hurricane season when the winds and rough seas will make cleanup and containment even harder.
The president is right that oil drilling must remain suspended. Hopefully, the appeals court will agree.
Whatever the appeals court decides, the next step will be to establish a new team to regulate the industry. Experts and commentators, including Public Citizen President Robert Weissman, have suggested these people could come from existing agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. Suspending drilling is not enough because eventually, oil drilling will have to resume. When it does, there needs to be a strong regulation process in place to help prevent future catastrophes.