William Galston puts together the pieces on the apparent regulatory failure that led to the Gulf disaster. During George W. Bush's first term, the Minerals Management Service proposed -- and them under heavy industry pressure, relented -- upon requiring a remote-control failsafe to prevent offshore disasters like this one. Galston asks:
So here’s my question: what is responsible for MMS’s change of heart between 2000 and 2003 on the crucial issue of requiring a remote control switch for offshore rigs? What we do know is that unfettered oil drilling was to Dick Cheney’s domestic concerns what the invasion of Iraq was to his foreign policy—a core objective, implacably pursued regardless of the risks. Is there a connection between his infamous secret energy task force and the corrupt mindset that came to dominate a key program within MMS? Would $500,000 per rig have been regarded as an unacceptably expensive insurance policy if a drill-baby-drill administration hadn’t placed its thumb so heavily on the scale?