Crude gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and washing ashore in Louisiana is exposing how ill-prepared the U.S. has been to respond to a major offshore oil spill.
In the fight to limit environmental damage from the month-old spill—which is on track to rival the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in size—BP PLC executives, government officials, and scientists are learning as they go, even though the industry has been drilling in the Gulf for decades and has 77 rigs operating there, according to ODS-Petrodata, a research firm.
So we were woefully unready for disaster, even as the "drill here, drill now" chants echoed.
At least we know now to move slowly and...um, what?
In the days since President Obama announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore oil wells and a halt to a controversial type of environmental waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig, at least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted.