Jonathan Chait

Spill, Baby, Spill

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Friday's New York Times had a good scoop on the regulatory failure that led to the BP spill:

The federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits from another agency that assesses threats to endangered species and despite strong warnings from that agency about the impact the drilling was likely to have on the gulf.

And Andrew Sullivan had a great find on Sarah Palin and the political climate that creates such regulatory failures. Here's Sarah Palin writing for National Review:

Many Americans fear that President Obama’s new energy proposal is once again “all talk and no real action,” this time in an effort to shore up fading support for the Democrats’ job-killing cap-and-trade (a.k.a. cap-and-tax) proposals. Behind the rhetoric lie new drilling bans and leasing delays; soon to follow are burdensome new environmental regulations.  Instead of “drill, baby, drill,” the more you look into this the more you realize it’s “stall, baby, stall.”

And here's part of a Palin speech on the topic:

"After inheriting a good pro-development GOP plan that opened up both coasts for drilling, the Obama administration halted development ... and now we're gonna study, more study of the South Atlantic and parts of the Gulf of Mexico ... my goodness, folks, these areas have been studied to death ... I have seen so many, many studies! I say, let's send the White House this message: that, you know, we can save taxpayer time, save money and announce: there is oil and gas down there, and we can produce it safely and responsibly! We don't need more studies, we need more action! Because energy produced in America is security for America, and it is jobs for American workers, jobs that can't be outsourced. Let's drill baby, drill, not stall, baby, stall!"

The spill was a very direct result of the right's energy dogma: drill here, drill now. And those comments are a great distillation of the Palin ethos in general: Bureaucrats are bad, environmentalists are bad, studies are bad. Action is good!

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