THE VINE MAY 21, 2010
We've had to wait all week, but Rand Paul has finally decided to bless us with his thoughts on the oil spill in the Gulf:
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you don’t want to get rid of the EPA?
PAUL: No, the thing is is that drilling right now and the problem we’re having now is in international waters and I think there needs to be regulation of that and always has been regulation. What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, you know, “I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.” I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I’ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill.
And I think it’s part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault. Instead of the fact that maybe sometimes accidents happen. I mean, we had a mining accident that was very tragic and I’ve met a lot of these miners and their families. They’re very brave people to do a dangerous job. But then we come in and it’s always someone’s fault. Maybe sometimes accidents happen.
Ah yes, the "oops" defense. But let's focus in on Paul's bit about "I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill." We now know that the oil company has been wildly lowballing the amount of oil leaking from the well: BP originally claimed 5,000 barrels per day, but that hasn't survived scrutiny, especially after video of the leaking pipe was made public. And why was the oil giant understating the amount? One possible motivation, as McClatchy reported, is that BP's low-end estimate "could save the company millions of dollars in damages when the financial impact of the spill is resolved in court."
Note also that BP isn't fully on the hook for the spill. Under current law, the company is obliged to pay direct cleanup costs, but its liability for indirect damages to wildlife or fisheries or beaches is limited to $75 million—and with the crude slick now lapping at the coastal wetlands of Louisiana and possibly spreading up through Florida, the total costs are surely going to be much higher than that. In essence, the government has socialized the risk BP and other drilling companies face. Surely that would bother a staunch libertarian like Paul, right? And yet Senate Republicans have been blocking attempts to raise the liability cap to $10 billion, and Paul hasn't said a word on the subject. Odd, that.