Offshore Drilling

June 25, 2010 • Volume 20, Issue 24
Is tougher federal oversight needed?
By Thomas J. Billitteri


Fire boats try to save the Deepwater Horizon oil rig (Getty Images/U.S. Coast Guard)
Fire boats try to save the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 21, 2010, a day after a blowout and explosion killed 11 workers. The $550 million floating platform sank on April 22. The resulting oil spill is considered among the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. (Getty Images/U.S. Coast Guard)

The blowout two months ago at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico has turned into one of the worst environmental catastrophes in U.S. history. Well owner BP failed in repeated attempts to stop the undersea gusher spilling millions of gallons, and experts say it may be months before it is brought under control. The blowout has exposed corner-cutting by BP and massive regulatory failures at the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency charged with overseeing the 4,000 offshore drilling facilities in the Gulf. The spill also has laid bare ideological differences over national energy policy and heightened debate over how to balance environmental protection with the economy's dependence on oil. Pressed by President Obama, BP promised to set aside $20 billion to pay damage claims. Still, the White House has been at a loss to stem political fallout from the disaster, which ultimately may help define the Obama presidency, much as Hurricane Katrina helped define the legacy of George W. Bush.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Disasters and Preparedness
Sep. 04, 2020  Pandemic Preparedness
Jan. 12, 2018  Disaster Readiness
Sep. 22, 2017  Climate Change and National Security
Aug. 02, 2013  Preparing for Disaster
Jun. 25, 2010  Offshore Drilling
Feb. 03, 2006  Rebuilding New Orleans
Nov. 18, 2005  Disaster Preparedness Updated
Dec. 16, 1994  Earthquake Research
Oct. 15, 1993  Disaster Response
Jul. 15, 1988  Slow Progress in Earthquake Prediction
Apr. 12, 1985  Tornadoes
Jul. 16, 1976  Earthquake Forecasting
Mar. 19, 1969  Earthquakes: Causes and Consequences
Aug. 22, 1962  Government Stockpiling
Jan. 18, 1956  Disaster Insurance
Mar. 06, 1952  Mobilization for a Prolonged Emergency
Jul. 01, 1950  Stand-By Laws for War
Jan. 09, 1928  Economic Effects of the Mississippi Flood
May 19, 1927  Mississippi River Flood Relief and Control
Energy and the Environment