Editorial: Good reasons to end moratorium on off-shore drilling
"Just a week after an independent report revealed that the federal government underplayed how much crude was spewing into the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Obama administration announced that it is lifting its moratorium on deep-water drilling in the gulf. Ironic timing aside, one can sense the whiff of politics in the administration's decision as the midterm elections near. Still, President Obama is justified in allowing offshore drilling to proceed.

For months, gulf-state politicians have agitated for lifting the moratorium, arguing that drilling is critical to their economies and that any real recovery -- either economic or environmental -- would be exceptionally difficult without the revenue that offshore exploration provides. Though some environmental groups portray the rigs and production platforms in the gulf as bombs waiting to go off, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has reasons to insist that the Outer Continental Shelf is entering "a new day" in oil and gas production. One reason is BP's vast improvement of deep-water containment technology; another is the thorough safety review that drilling companies and the government conducted since the spill.

Mr. Salazar's reasons, won't hold, however, unless the federal government improves its offshore drilling regulations. The Interior Department recently announced tougher rules; Mr. Salazar says that no new deep-water drilling will begin unless operators can prove they can contain a worst-case scenario accident. But just as important is professional application of the rules, which the government failed to provide before the Deepwater Horizon blowout. Among other things, more consistent oversight probably requires more and, critically, much better-trained inspectors."

Get the Story:
Editorial: United States has good reasons for lifting the ban on offshore drilling (The Washington Post 10/14)

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