Is Cleaning Up An Oil Spill Impossible?
May 10, 2010

Just how hard is it to clean up a big oil spill? Here's one pessimistic take: Charles Wohlforth, who covered the Exxon Valdez spill back in 1989 for the Anchorage Daily News, says the lesson from the Alaska disaster is that massive slicks can be nearly impossible to clean up, for the most part: More than 10,000 workers worked for a summer to wash glue-like oil from cold rocks. After spending more than $2 billion and inflicting untold additional environmental damage through their efforts, the cleanup recovered, at most, 5 to 7 percent of the oil.

It's Not Just BP's Problem
May 07, 2010

On the main site today, Steve LeVine has a good piece about how BP's handling of the Gulf spill has the entire oil industry panicked: Executives, not just at BP, but throughout the oil industry, are concerned that the disaster will have the effect of restricting or closing off their continued ability to drill in the Gulf, one of the few remaining places on the planet where oil producers are permitted a relatively free hand.

Tanking Hard
May 07, 2010

Early on Monday, BP’s boyish CEO, Tony Hayward, sat in an open-collared white dress shirt and, rocking back and forth in a studio chair, submitted to a series of four network interviews about his company’s catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The questions from NBC, CBS, ABC, and the BBC differed slightly, but to all the anchors, Hayward delivered a similar line: “This is not our accident.” In other words, it's not BP's fault.

A (Slightly) Optimistic Take On The Spill
May 04, 2010

The New York Times offers some reason to think that, at the very least, the Gulf oil spill might not turn into the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history: But on Monday, the wind was pushing the slick in the opposite direction, away from the current. The worst effects of the spill have yet to be felt. And if efforts to contain the oil are even partly successful and the weather cooperates, the worst could be avoided. “Right now what people are fearing has not materialized,” said Edward B.

Outsourced Drilling Isn't Pretty, Either
May 03, 2010

It's quite possible that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will put an end to further offshore drilling in the United States—at least for awhile. Florida Senator Bill Nelson is already calling for a stop to all new exploration and drilling in the Gulf; he's called any new energy bill that has support for new offshore drilling "dead on arrival." The Obama administration, meanwhile, is sounding a lot more circumspect about its earlier plans to expand drilling off the coasts.

Disaster Votes
May 03, 2010

Lots of people expect that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will spur Congress to pass some sort of new environmental regulations in the months ahead. After all, that's what happened after the Exxon Valdez disaster, the Three Mile Island nuclear scare, and so forth. But here's a twist: Matthew Kahn links to a 2007 paper he wrote on this subject, which finds that, while oil-spill-type disasters do force new regulations onto the legislative agenda, they don't make lawmakers any more likely to vote for them: Unexpected events such as environmental catastrophes capture wide public attention.

Bringing the Heat
April 05, 2010

This is a tale of two bills—a tale that illuminates how policy-making may unfold under the most progressive administration, and the most Democratic Congress, in a generation. And it’s not a tale with an especially happy ending. The target of both bills is carbon. From early on, President Obama has indicated that climate and energy legislation would come second in his administrative batting order, only after health care reform. (Originally, he thought that would mean last fall, but health care was like a hitter who fouled off pitch after pitch.

Citizens Unite
March 16, 2010

There has been a growing fury about the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, but much of that fury hangs upon an odd reading of the Court’s opinion.

Good Wood
May 20, 2009

This piece is from our archives: It was published on May 20, 2009. In March, 2008, Martha Nussbaum, a law professor at the University of Chicago, traveled with Judge Diane Wood to a conference in India. The topic was affirmative action in higher education, and before the conference began, they went to Kolkata to meet women leaders who were gathered to talk about how women should claim their legal rights. "Diane borrowed half of my Indian wardrobe and came in like an Indian woman," Nussbaum recalls.

Drilling Down
August 27, 2008

Representative John Shadegg was very proud of his Republican colleagues in the House. They had, after all, wrestled down rising gas prices. "The market is responding to the fact that we are here talking," he told reporters.