Wednesday, May 12, 2010

After Deepwater Horizon, we still need drilling

Like just about everyone else who comments on energy, I was mildly embarrassed when one of the worst oil spills in history happened less than a month after this post on offshore drilling. As the Economist points out, though, the spill changes the politics of drilling, but not the underlying dynamics. Exporting drilling to countries with less environmental oversight doesn't help the environment or the long term energy picture.

If there is a silver lining, it is that the spill may help restate the case for clean energy, which has been battered by the combined effects of the recession and falling oil prices. And it will be a long time before anyone dares suggest that safety measures like remotely operated blowout valves are "too expensive." (Although, in fairness, it's not clear that a remote switch would have helped in this case.) If more intense regulation drives up the price of oil, that's one step toward making the price reflect its cost.

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