A clip on Rachel Maddow’s show Thursday showed that the oil leak still pouring into the Gulf of Mexico bears an uncanny resemblance to one from 1979. Each one of the failed containment plans (top hat, top kill and junk shot) was tried unsuccessfully in 1979; indeed, both platforms were owned by the same company–Transocean Ltd. Maddow points out that only relief wells eventually plugged the 1979 leak.
Yet the oil spill also obliquely recalls in form the global financial crisis of 2008. In particular, it demonstrates the inability of lawmakers to learn from the mistakes that lead to the crisis.
The first repetition is the unwillingness of American lawmakers and regulatory bodies to regulate private industry. The beginnings of the economic crisis undoubtedly lie in the easing of banking restrictions by Congress in 1999, and the subsequent failure to regulate the arcane and risky derivatives market. Similarly, the Deepwater Horizon was given a “categorical exclusion” from the National Environmental Policy Act. Continue reading