Friday, June 4, 2010

More on BP.

A Petroleum engineer describes how BP is doing the minimum to clean up (as expected) and suggests what they should be doing. His suggestions summarized:
  1. Stop releasing dispersants.
  2. Mobilize every possible tanker to siphon up crude from as close to the leak points as possible.
  3. Restart work on the second pressure relief well.

Robert Reich discusses how it is both possible and necessary for BP to be placed under temporary receivership of the U.S. government. His reasons (summarized, again) why it must be done:
  1. We are not getting the truth from BP.
  2. We have no way to be sure BP is devoting enough resources to stopping the gusher.
  3. BP’s new strategy for stopping the gusher is highly risky.
  4. Right now, the U.S. government has no authority to force BP to adopt a different strategy.
  5. The President is not legally in charge.
Again, it's worth reading in full both the problem as he sees it and the legal precedent for taking over.

One thing that kind of bugs me about the public response to the disaster is the idea that we can punish the BP corporation by not shopping at the BP gas station and instead shopping at the gas station across the street. BP's profit is determined largely by the cost of oil on a globally traded market, and boycotts of individual gas stations will tend to cause more harm to the proprietor of the station (and the benefit will largely be to the station across the street) than to the corporation at large. If you really want to cut into the BP's profits, you need to cut into the entire oil industry.

In addition to the more obvious pigouvian incentive of the carbon tax, a land tax will also reduce our overall oil consumption:

We spend a lot of money heating and cooling older homes many miles from where people actually work. People commute long distances -- most of them via private cars because there aren't viable alternatives. Why do they live so far from their work? Usually because they can't afford to live closer.

The selling price of most housing within a commutable distance of any vibrant city is mostly land value. And most people don't know it.

Also, xkcd speculates on the worst case scenario:
Click to enlarge, there's a hurricane of fire and alligators.

Oh, and as long as we've made it to the comedic section of this post, you can also read about how Sarah Palin is trying to reconcile this disaster with the "Drill, Baby, Drill" slogan, because it's funny.

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