Not that we haven’t heard this before, but the latest thrashing of BP’s performance on its doomed well in the Gulf may carry more weight than previous ones. This one comes from people who really know how a huge rig is supposed to be run.
Keeper of the blame: The report from the National Academy of Engineering is the result of the most comprehensive investigation yet of the Gulf disaster. And while it avoids specifics, it’s littered with damning language. Like “an insufficient consideration of risk.” Or “a lack of management discipline.” Or “lack of onboard expertise and of clearly defined responsibility.”
The Academy stops short of saying BP cut corners, but notes that many of the company’s decisions were “likely to result in less cost and less time relative to other options.”
The report also lays some responsibility at the feet of government regulators who clearly were in over their heads when it came to keeping up with modern deepwater drilling technology. [Wall Street Journal]
And in other green news:
Warning snot: One-time moderate Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is working overtime to show he’s a changed man so Republican leaders will name him chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. His latest foray into tough talk is a letter to fellow GOP lawmakers saying he is putting Barack Obama “on notice.” Here’s a taste of the Suddenly Fierce Fred [Politico]:
Today the Obama administration is on notice. We will be relentless in our oversight duties and shine a light on regulatory policies that have been hiding in the dark. The Founding Fathers intended Congress to provide a check and balance to the power of the presidency. Nancy Pelosi has been derelict in that duty. From Day 1, we will fulfill our constitutional duty.
Them’s fightin’ words: The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has always preferred to try to find a way to work with energy companies rather than attack them. But enough is enough. In a Huffington Post op-ed, EDF chief Fred Krupp says it’s time to go on the offensive, at least against companies that “continue to choose short-term profits over public health, and who feel they are better off opposing progress.” Krupp charges on:
As with every pollution limit ever proposed, there will be some who will work to block, weaken, or delay any rules EPA tries to put on paper. We will fight them at every turn, making their full agenda clear to the American public: they seek not only to allow unlimited carbon pollution, but to derail limits on toxic mercury, lethal particulates, and other harmful contaminants in our air. We must remind America that obstructionists are attacking the fundamental public health protections of a bipartisan law that has stood for 40 years.
Crossing the whine: While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others keep whining that EPA regulations are a pox on the economy, research by the World Resources Institute comes to a very different conclusion. It shows that environmental regulations end up costing far less than both the industry and the EPA predict. [World Resources Institute]
A kick in the cash: From John Boehner to Joe Barton to Rand Paul, there’s no shortage of Republicans out there for enviros to demonize. But green groups aren’t expecting anything like the “Gingrich bump” they saw in donations in the mid-1990s. [Politico]
Put the gun away, Joe: Joe Manchin won’t need to be shooting holes in another pretend cap-and-trade bill any time soon. The newly elected West Virginia senator says Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised him that the matter won’t come up during the next Congress. [The Hill]
The warm turns: A German scientist has found more evidence that global warming can cause colder winters in Europe and northern Asia. [Reuters]
They’re in charge: New research leads to an estimate that more than 1.4 million plug-in hybrid or all electric vehicles will be on highways in Asia within five years. More than half of them will be in China. [PikeResearch]
Shut off the gas: In what is mainly a symbolic gesture in a state experiencing a natural gas boom, Pittsburgh’s City Council has unanimously banned drilling within city limits. [Wall Street Journal]
Too much baggage: Los Angeles County supervisors have approved a ban on plastic shopping bags, one that could become a model for the rest of California. [Los Angeles Times]