Commentary: Don't let Big Oil reduce overshore drilling oversight

The six-month anniversary of the disastrous Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill passed only a few days ago — quietly compared with the intense spotlight placed on the Gulf as 200 million gallons of crude spewed from the blown-out well over the course of the leak.

The Obama administration has been walking a tightrope trying to balance environmental and economic concerns over the federal government’s moratorium on deepwater oil exploration and drilling, instituted several months after the April 20 explosion killed 11 rig workers and uncorked the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

With midterm elections bearing down on the sagging fortunes of Democrats, Obama lifted the moratorium two weeks ago, well ahead of the initial Nov. 30 expiration date and ahead of Election Day and early voting. With Republicans hammering the administration over job losses because of the temporary halt to exploration, Obama took the expedient way out.

The administration claims that “significant progress” has been made in fixing the broken government oversight system, enhancing safety standards for future drilling operations and improving oil spill response — all in just a few short months. Since the federal bureaucracy is best known for moving at a glacial pace — even in the face of disasters like Hurricane Katrina — this swift headway seems highly suspect.

We can only hope those major accomplishments prove true.

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