The Corner

New Containment System Shreds Last Excuse for Permitorium

No more excuses, Mr. President. Let the drilling resume.

A consortium of oil companies, led by Exxon, today unveiled a dedicated underwater containment system, including the vessels needed to deploy it, for runaway oil wells in the Gulf. The system borrows heavily from the innovative method BP used to cap the Deepwater well before pessimists said it would be possible via the standard “bottom kill.”

Since it is all ready to go, this new device could stop a blowout in weeks, rather than the 85 days it took BP to design, build, and emplace a similar structure.

Liberals blather about “lessons learned” from what they had hoped would be the “worst environmental disaster” ever — namely the need to reduce drilling generally and regulate what’s left to near extinction. Nonsense. We need oil, and the executive branch, in the form of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, has plenty of authority already to approve or disapprove an oil company’s well plan, the document that covers all aspects of design and operation. As for lessons learned, besides how to build capping stacks, they’re quite the opposite of what the catastrophists have been peddling. We know, as Gov. Haley Barbour pointed out this week, that the spill occurred because BP deviated from industry standards, not because the industry as a whole is guilty. We know that the Gulf is resilient and rapidly disposed of a record amount of oil via natural processes, with little or no harm to sea life. We also know that Corexit dispersant would have been even more effective had it been used at depth sooner rather than later.

There’s also human nature to consider, something that conservatives seems to grasp better than our liberal brethren. Does anyone seriously think that, after the experience of Deepwater, inspectors or the oil companies are going to be cutting corners in the foreseeable future? If the president needs to hire more and better engineering talent to move permit applications along rapidly, Republicans should be happy to appropriate the needed funds. Until then, the president owns the rising price of oil, and it owns him. Drill, baby, drill.

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