I sat in the car in the parking garage of my office this morning, listening to an LSU scientist talk about the oil spill on a radio show. He said that before this is over, we could see oil onshore stretching from Central Texas to all along the western coast of Florida. He explained that the really killer aspect of this spill is the spectacular depth of the oil under the surface — that it’s one deep and long river of oil. Because of that, and in part because of the dispersants BP is putting into the water at the well head, the oil is not rising to the surface like it normally would, thereby degrading because of sunlight and microbial action. Result: what hits the beaches and marshes is even worse, in terms of thickness and toxicity. He also said the state of Louisiana’s hope to build sand berms to protect the wetlands is far too little, and far too late. Before I had to leave the interview, he said that nature is pretty good about cleaning up one-off spills, even bad ones, but that this had turned into a chronic problem with no end in sight.
Great. Take a look at this ABC News footage shot by divers underwater. Stunningly awful.
But you want to get really mad? Take a look at this report on what the Inspector General found out about the federal agency that was supposed to be regulating oil companies. Excerpt:

Federal regulators responsible for oversight of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico allowed industry officials several years ago to fill in their own inspection reports in pencil — and then turned them over to the regulators, who traced over them in pen before submitting the reports to the agency, according to an inspector general’s report to be released this week.
The report, which describes inappropriate behavior by the staff at the Minerals Management Service from 2005 to 2007, also found that inspectors had accepted meals, tickets to sporting events and gifts from at least one oil company while they were overseeing the industry.
Although there is no evidence that those events played a role in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the report offers further evidence of what many critics of the Minerals Management Service have described as a culture of lax oversight and cozy ties to industry.
The report includes other examples of troubling behavior discovered by investigators.
In mid-2008, a minerals agency employee conducted four inspections on drilling platforms when he was also negotiating a job with the drilling company, a cover letter to the report said.

And an inspector from the Lake Charles office admitted to investigators that he had used crystal methamphetamine, an illegal drug. Investigators said they believe the inspector may have been under the influence of the drug during an inspection.

Take these pseudo-regulators out to the site of the disaster, throw them into rubber dinghys, and let ’em go. And the people who appointed them. Epic, epic fail. This is what I don’t get about people who have unquestioned faith in the radically free markets: have they not heard about original sin? True, people require liberty to thrive — but liberty absent constraint, oversight or some form of accountability becomes license, which, given the corruption inherent in human nature, cannot help but lead to destruction.

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