John Cole has a revolutionary idea — let’s let the free market take care of things. His brilliant idea? Make the oil companies responsible for the total clean up cost of their oil spills. If they can’t pay, they go bankrupt. That might make them a bit more safety conscious.
After the Exxon Valdez disaster, Congress made oil companies responsible for cleaning up after spills, but capped their responsibility at 75 million dollars. After the current spill, Congress has introduced bills raising the cap. But why have a cap in the first place? Isn’t that corporate welfare?
I believe in (real) free markets. If drilling for oil has risks, that should be part of the equation that determines whether that business is profitable. Monetizing that risk is the job of insurance companies. If the risk of oil spills causes the cost of gas to go up, then that will just reflect the actual cost of our addiction to oil, and will encourage investment in alternative fuels.
Exxon had billions in profits last year, and didn’t pay a penny in US taxes. So why should the US government pay anything to clean up their mess?
If it were up to me, the government would stop subsidizing the actual costs of industry. The oil companies make money, and we pay for the wars to keep oil flowing, pay the health costs of all the pollution generated by burning oil, and — in addition to the costs of cleaning up oil spills — the economic costs to fishermen, tourism, and other industries. That’s not a free market, that is corporate socialism!
UPDATE: The bill raising the cap in oil spill liability was defeated by Lisa Murkowski, the Republican Senator from Alaska. Looks like once again corporate welfare is more important than reducing government spending.