The much-vaunted "top kill" attempt to stop the worst oil spill in U.S. history has failed, adding yet another failure to the joint BP and U.S. mission to curb the oil that is already destroying the Gulf of Mexico's chemical balance, marine and bird populations, and delicate coastlines. Why are we struggling so to stop and contain the oil leak?
- 'Fix-It' Faith in Technology 'Misplaced' The New York Times' Elisabeth Rosenthal writes, "Americans have long had an unswerving belief that technology will save us — it is the cavalry coming over the hill, just as we are about to lose the battle. And yet, as Americans watched scientists struggle to plug the undersea well over the past month, it became apparent that our great belief in technology was perhaps misplaced."
- Not Enough Regulation The Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus asks, "Does it show that the federal government should be given more power to regulate energy industries, just as the financial crisis showed that Washington needed more power to regulate Wall Street?" He answers, "On that count, this crisis is very different from Katrina, which was mostly about governments' failures to prepare for a natural disaster. The oil spill fits into a different political narrative: the Democrats' insistence on the need for more federal regulation, in this case to protect the environment. In the face of events, voters may take a second look at that proposition."
- Our Limited Knowledge of Deep Sea The New York Times' William Broad writes, "Strange as it sounds, we know more about distant planets than we do about the deep sea. ... Inky darkness, icy temperatures and, most of all, crushing pressures conspire to make deep exploration daunting if not impossible. That is why scientists estimate that humans have glimpsed perhaps only a millionth of what there is down there to see. That also helps explain why a runaway oil well on the seabed in the Gulf of Mexico is a massive calamity, with crews struggling to stop the gushing crude. It is the brutal nature of the abyss."
- Regulators and Industry Are Too Cozy Newsweek's Evan Thomas and Daniel Stone discuss "the limits of government regulation." They say that "the oil companies and the federal government grew a little complacent" in a way that "underscores an uncomfortable truth about government regulation in the modern age. The government is dependent on industry for essential know-how. ... Inevitably, when government regulators are dependent on the industries they regulate, coziness and sometimes corruption creep in. The [Minerals Management Service] appears to have been no exception."
- White House Too Deferential To BP The Wall Street Journal's Miguel Bustillo and Guy Chazan write, "initial hopefulness has eroded in recent days as the federal government has continued looking for direction to BP, which has been unable to put a stop to the runaway spill despite company and government spending of more than $930 million."
- Regulation Should Emphasize Oversight, Not Bans The Cleveland Plain-Dealer declares, "the cozy era of insider U.S. oil industry regulation has to end." However, "Now the president risks a whiplash in the other direction with tough directives that suggest an excessively cumbersome environmental review process for each well could be in store. What's needed is effective oversight, not knee-jerk bans."