They’re trying a dome because the robots didn’t work. No, really. Damage control for the oil-rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is sounding like a bad science-fiction movie:

Engineers are crafting a giant underwater dome to help to contain an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico after attempts to shut off the leak using robotic submarines failed.

… While the robots continued their efforts one mile down and a new rig arrived to drill into the leaking well and plug it in an operation that could take months, BP said that its dome should trap the escaping oil and funnel it to tanks on the surface.

The 11 workers missing after the oil-rig explosion are presumed dead, and the leaking oil is expected to reach the Louisiana coast as early as Saturday. The spill is 48 miles at its widest, 39 miles at its longest and has a circumference of 600 miles, according to reports.

And:

Louisiana is one month away from opening its inshore shrimping season, its crab season is just starting and oyster beds could be closed if the oil gets into coastal estuaries.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, this sort of casts a pall over BP’s fantastic quarterly earnings report, which beat analysts’ forecasts by 18 percent.

At the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh last fall, President Obama promised to scale back government subsidies to the fossil-fuel industries: “I will work with my colleagues at the G20 to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge.”

The continuing Louisiana disaster provides a favorable political climate to make good on that pledge.