Oil Rig Safety: Still A Long Way To Go

Posted by | April 18, 2011 14:59 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Implementation.  It is the messy stuff of putting a policy in place that the media usually doesn’t pay attention to.  It is also what determines the success or failure of a policy initiative.  Last week I wrote about the FDIC’s relatively weak regulations implementing financial reform.  Looking at another response to a disaster, the Times reports on efforts to refocus the Minerals Management Service (renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement) on oil rig safety.

But is it fixed? The simple answer is no. Even those who run the agency formerly known as the Minerals Management Service concede that it will be years before they can establish a robust regulatory regime able to minimize the risks to workers and the environment while still allowing exploration offshore.

Years.  Changing the culture of an an agency like the MMS is like turning around an ocean liner.  It’s hard in the best of circumstances.  But when water is choppy, Congress puts icebergs in the way, and the captain of the ship has other priorities you get changes that take years at best.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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