Look at it this way: The oil BP has already lost was worth millions. The company will shell out billions to clean up the Gulf, and deal with lawsuits. Its stock price will take a hit, and negative publicity from the incident will haunt the company for decades.
All told, the market will impose a multi-billion dollar price tag on BP. It’s a far stronger punishment than any regulator could impose. And you know other oil companies are paying attention and taking steps to ensure they don’t pay a similar heavy price.
The fact is, extracting oil from the ground and delivering it to buyers is difficult, dangerous work. The United States now imports most of the oil we use, and a good deal of that is shipped by sea. So even if we ended offshore drilling today, the possibility of a marine disaster would remain very real.
We need to develop more on-shore oil fields, including ANWR in Alaska and the shale oil deposits in Colorado. Salazar is dragging his feet on both prospects. These offer our best long-term hope to reduce oil imports. Meanwhile, we need to focus on safety (which, despite the Gulf incident, has vastly improved in recent years) while we keep developing offshore fields.
That’s the best way to break the cycle of dependency on foreign oil, and on over-eager lawmakers and bureaucrats.