That’s the question I address today on the free-market energy blog, MasterResource.Org.
This morning, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment is holding a hearing on the Blowout Prevention Act. The bill text says that the federal government “shall not” issue a permit for an offshore oil well unless the applicant can “demonstrate” that he has the “capacity to promptly stop a blowout in the event the blowout preventer and other well control measures fail.” However, as the ongoing disaster in the Gulf makes painfully clear, once “the blowout preventer and other well control measures fail,” there is no way to “promptly stop” oil from spilling into the ocean. At that point, physics (two fluids coming into contact) takes over.
In short, the Act sets a standard that no oil company can meet. As written, the bill would effectively prohibit all future offshore drilling. Logically, moreover, it implies that all existing permits to drill should be revoked.
Two points should be kept in mind.
First, although oil spills are bad, oil is good. Without oil, there would be no modern commerce and no mechanized agriculture. Life for most people would be nasty, poor, brutish, and short. Many of us would not even be alive.
Second, banning offshore drilling would increase consumers’ pain at the pump, destroy tens of thousands of high-paying jobs, cripple the economy of the gulf states, and make the United States more dependent on OPEC oil.