Why would the us government not pass this law that could have easily prevented such a massive oil spill?

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Nov 8, 2022


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The company that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, Transocean Ltd., contracted in 2010 with BP to drill a very deepwater offshore oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, in a field called the Macondo. The drilling operation failed and ultimately led to an infamous environmental and human disaster called the Deepwater Horizon spill that has since been the subject of intense scrutiny and litigation. Eleven workers were killed and seventeen were injured, and at least five million barrels of oil poured into the ocean in the largest such spill in history. The environmental harm was epic in scale (Figure 4.11). Five years later, tar balls still dotted the beach. Oil buried beneath the sand offshore still gets pushed toward the beach whenever the surf is rough. Offshore islands have disappeared because the mangrove roots were coated in oil, killing the trees. Once the mangrove root framework that holds the land together was destroyed, the islands were washed away within a few years. Louisiana was already losing land at a concerning pace, and more has been lost since the spill. Scientists confirm that the disaster has accelerated the pace of the loss.
Many question whether more regulation and a better relationship between regulators and the oil industry might have prevented the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Transocean, the rig owner/operator, did not install a relatively inexpensive safety device, an acoustically triggered shutoff valve, which most experts agree could have stopped the flow of oil from the well into the Gulf. Congress had not mandated such a device, largely as a result of oil industry lobbying, and since it wasn’t required, BP and Transocean were free to act as they pleased.
Other nations with offshore drilling activities, such as Norway and Brazil, mandate that all oil rigs be equipped with backup acoustically triggered shutoff valves as a safety measure. Norway has a stellar reputation for safety related to its North Sea offshore drilling. Two-thirds of Statoil, its largest oil company, is owned by the government, and, as a result, the company does not lobby the government for weakened regulation. The same is true of Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company.70Links to an external site. Partial government ownership makes public/private-sector cooperation more likely and is therefore likely to improve safety as well.
Address questions a, b, and c below:
Why would the US government not pass this law that could have easily prevented such a massive oil spill?
What solution would you propose for this situation?
When massive mistakes like this happen, is it acceptable to impede on first amendment rights in order to resolve the situation? Which is more important, preserving first amendment rights or silencing potentially harmful lobbying by large companies? Explain your answer.


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