Deregulation

Monday, May 03, 2010

A lot of calls for "deregulation" of certain industries has led, with some predictable regularity, to disaster. To the top of the mind comes the big bank fiasco of the last 2 years; left to their own devices, certain institutions will default to greed, which will normally cause some sort of giant disaster. The giant disaster yields regulation of the industry in question. Then, after a generation has gone by that has forgotten why that industry was regulated, the industry in question becomes deregulated. And so on.

That said, I fail to see how regulation could have stopped the oil blowout in the Gulf.

I have seen even some elected officials in Florida talking about the "under-regulated" off-shore oil drilling industry is at fault for not preventing this disaster. They point to Brazil and Norway as having a requiorement that their oil rigs use some other form of remote switch to shut off the oil flow should something happen to the on-site switch like the BP rig.

But would that have saved this? Would any more regulation have saved this disaster, short of simply not allowing for any off-shore drilling at all (which is where we are headed)?

4 comments:

Bob 2:44 PM  

"They point to Brazil and Norway as having a requiorement that their oil rigs use some other form of remote switch to shut off the oil flow should something happen to the on-site switch like the BP rig."

Potentially, some sort of additonal equipment may have shut off the flow, but who knows if that would have been destroyed too.

"...short of simply not allowing for any off-shore drilling at all (which is where we are headed)?"


Not allowing off shore drilling, doesn't end off shore drilling, it just shifts it to other equally problematic areas in someone eleses backyard. I say drill here where we can regualte it for the good of the planet as a whole, not just for the good of our own shores.

Anyone who says we shouldn't drill better shut off the lights, junk their car and quit taking flights.

Smitty 3:03 PM  

Anyone who says we shouldn't drill better shut off the lights, junk their car and quit taking flights.

Just to be clear, that pretty well sums-up my position on it as well. I'm not a drill-baby-drill luddite, but I know enough to see that nobody anywhere on earth is that eager to quit flying, driving, taking cruises and lighting their homes. "Green" renewable energy is a loooong way off.

steves 6:01 PM  

Good question Smitty. I know almost next to nothing about off shore drilling, but I would think that there is some incentive to the oil companies to drill in a responsible fashion as they will have to pay out the ass for any screw up.

I hate to sound trite, but regulation has to have level of pragmatism. In some cases, it is like you point out, a disaster. In other cases, we see major benefits. Ted Kennedy championed the deregulation of of the trucking industry and this was a major boon. The deregulation of the airline industry made it more affordable for to fly. The deregulation and break up of Ma Bell made the cost of long distance calls go down.

I don't know if it is possible to always predict what will work and what won't.

Monk-in-Training 5:11 AM  

I am somewhat familiar with the shut off 'switch' referred to here.

It is actually a check valve, and to all the oil MUST flow through it to get out. It is at all times pressurized to keep it open. The instant the "hold open" pressure is removed, by whatever means, the valve slams shut.

The pressure of the oil attempting to escape keeps it closed. In most designs, the valve can not be reused, but must be replaced, it essentially sacrifices itself to block the oil.

This valve is located below the surface of the gulf floor. There isn't any way someone could have sabotaged it purposely from that great depth in spite of what Rush, et al says. Any attempt, and the check valve would have closed and stayed closed.

All offshore and I think onshore as well, wells have this valve. I have seen them being made, and reviewed their designs.

I do not understand how this has happened, but it seems the entire upper part of the well was destroyed, time will tell.

As much as I am for green energy, and am looking forward to the impact of new, electric cars and solar plants, wind farms, etc. I am convinced we need to continue to drill.

We need to learn as much as possible from this disaster to prevent it from happening again.

It is my belief that God, has bound us together in a common life. I pray that He would help us, in the midst of this struggle for understanding, justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect.

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