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BP One Year Later

Lessons of the Gulf oil spill.

Apr 18, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 30 • By ANDREW B. WILSON
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(7) Even BP will survive. Though BP was browbeaten by the Obama administration into setting up a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the oil spill, the company no longer appears to be in any danger of bankruptcy. The company’s stock lost more than half its value, plunging from $60 just prior to the disaster down to the high $20s in June, but has been trading in the mid-$40s so far this year.

(8) Whatever happens—and despite the absence of practical alternatives—leading environmentalists will continue to oppose oil and nuclear as the two great evils of the energy world. In the April 11 issue of Fortune, Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, states: “We’ve had the BP gulf spill, increased concerns about the environmental impact of drilling for natural gas, and now the nuclear crisis in Japan. They’re all perfect examples of the costs of our dependence on dirty energy. .  .  . What are we waiting for? Why not go all in now and make that transition [to cleaner energy resources, like solar and wind] happen as quickly and smoothly as possible?”

(9) Based on the Gulf oil spill, we also learned that the Obama administration is prone to empty gestures and political grandstanding in the midst of what is perceived to be a national emergency.

President Obama made the spurious claim: “Make no mistake: BP is operating at our direction. Every key decision and action they take must be approved by us in advance.” Ken Salazar, the secretary of the interior, even threatened to push BP “out of the way” if it didn’t move faster. That caused Coast Guard commandant Admiral Thad Allen, overseeing the federal response, to gasp: “Replace them with what?”

Andrew B. Wilson is a writer and fellow at the Show-Me Institute, a free-market think tank in St. Louis.

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