WASHINGTON -- A year after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Congress has done virtually nothing to address the issues raised by the oil spill -- from industry liability limits, to regulatory reform, to coastal restoration, to broader issues of energy policy."Within the acceptable boundaries of risk." Really?
The reasons are legion.
There are the usual suspects of partisan gridlock and political gamesmanship in what was, in 2010, a congressional election year, culminating in a Republican takeover of the House, which completely flipped the script on the lessons of the Macondo blowout.
Hearings that in the previous Congress were stacked --as many as five-a-day deep -- against the oil industry, are now, in the new Congress, as surely stacked in its favor.
Alarm about an oil spill that spewed day after day, month after month, in an emotionally draining public drama, has given way to the more mundane but politically potent public panic about rising gas prices that once again puts a premium on boosting domestic production.
Indeed, a sudden nuclear disaster in Japan, scarier in its way than an oil spill, placed the human and environmental cost of energy in frightening perspective.
And an Obama administration that had, against fierce opposition from the industry and its Gulf state advocates in Congress, stopped deepwater drilling for nearly a year after the spill as it implemented a new regulatory regime, has now slowly, methodically -- and under enormous pressure -- returned to permitting, satisfied that it has done what needed to be done to make deepwater drilling fall within the acceptable boundaries of risk.
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