The Wall Street Journal reports that regulators in other countries require an additional remote shutoff device for deep water wells, while the US opted for “further study” in 2003. Nobody knows if that remote control would have worked in this case, but it’s no surprise that the decision not to use these devices was justified “because they tend to be very costly.”
Read almost any report of an energy-related tragedy or disaster in the US, and you’ll find a similar statement buried somewhere. Regulatory capture like this is such a commonplace occurrence that I doubt that this story will get the play it deserves, save perhaps in other shrill blogs. And it’s telling that what discussion we’ve had about the new energy bill has focused almost entirely on cap-and-trade and other broad issues, with little or no mention of regulating extraction and production.
As much as I’d like to believe that wind farms and solar energy will provide us with lights and heat, I know that we’re going to continue extracting fossil fuels, and we’ll be building new nuclear plants. Both of these activities aren’t getting the kind of adult supervision they need, and I can’t see how that’s going to change.