It was not hard to predict the sort of recommendations that would come out of the seven-member BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission when President Barack Obama appointed to the panel Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke, Union of Concerned Scientists board member Fran Ulmer and five other Democratic donors. All seven oppose offshore oil and gas activity and are environmental-movement stalwarts.
For example, just before Obama appointed her, Beinecke said, “We can blame BP for the disaster, and we should. We can blame lack of adequate government oversight for the disaster, and we should.” The commission made its findings public Tuesday. They can be summarized in one sentence: It is all the energy industry’s fault and the only acceptable solution is more government regulation and jobs for environmentalists.
Among its many recommendations, the commission proposed the creation of an entirely new independent federal agency to oversee all offshore oil and gas drilling. The panel did not bother to explain how yet another new federal bureaucracy would do a better job than the multiple agencies and offices within the Interior, Defense, Commerce and Homeland Security departments and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that for decades have been involved in federal regulation of offshore drilling.
Also, the commission recommended more costly studies of existing procedures and regulations, hiring more outside industrial safety experts and environmental consultants to recommend new procedures and regulations, creating a fresh crop of offices within existing departments and agencies, and approving bigger budgets for inspection and enforcement.
In short, the commission wants Obama to turn the nation’s worst-ever environmental disaster into a federal jobs program for politically connected environmental activists. It is a classic illustration of how Big Government and Big Green work together to feed each other at the expense of taxpayers.
First, Big Government seizes on a crisis or problem to justify new bureaucratic regulations and organizations. Big Green then works with its liberal mainstream media allies to create the appearance of public support, and lobbies Congress to respond to that demand by approving and funding the proposed new bureaucratic regulations and organizations.
The circle is closed when Big Green figures land jobs or consulting contracts in the new government entities where they use their regulatory power and influence to generate thousands of pages of official edicts that require even bigger budgets and more bureaucrats.
As if to emphasize the rigged nature of this insider’s game, the report’s chapter on the history of offshore drilling contains an acerbic quote from one of Beinecke’s employees, Executive Director Peter Lehner. The quote, which mocks the industry’s “blind faith” in its engineering and safety capabilities, is from the book Lehner rushed into print following the Gulf of Mexico crisis to take advantage of public worries.
You have to move fast in three-card monte and the public policy shuffle.