Economic and Political Power of Oil Industry Succeeds in Weakening Deep Water Drilling Regulations

While the vast environmental and economic damage from last year’s BP oil spill is still being calculated, deep water oil drilling has now resumed in the Gulf of Mexico. Soon after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, the Obama administration’s Interior Department imposed a moratorium on deepwater drilling, but under pressure from the oil industry and their conservative political allies, the moratorium was lifted in October 2010.

Government officials maintained that they would not issue new deepwater drilling permits until drill platform operators demonstrated their ability to contain future oil spills. But some critics believe that the Obama administration, hoping to appease the oil industry, rushed to grant new deepwater permits without first ensuring that rigorous new safety standards were in place. In fact, a Norwegian company contracted by the U.S. government to test the effectiveness of blowout preventers used to prevent a spill in case of a wellhead explosion, found that many of the blowout preventers in use today around the world have major design flaws.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Antonia Juhasz, author of the new book, “Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill,” who talks about the economic and political power of the oil industry to weaken regulations on drilling safety — and the widespread belief that the current spike in oil and gas prices is due to oil market manipulation and speculation.

Listen to the full interview (also available on Between the Lines):