The State of US Energy Policy


Although I had originally not intended about writing my paper on BP, my class presentation this past week has made me very interested in learning more about the energy industry. In particular, I wish to change the topic of my paper to one that focuses more on a larger policy question about whether we should continue to participate/ encourage risky and environmentally dangerous activities such as deep water drilling. In writing on this topic, I will aim to answer the following questions:

  • Do the benefits of offshore drilling outweigh the costs?
  • Does the United States properly oversee the oil industry? What changes need to be made?

Though focusing more largely on the oil industry, I will use the BP case in particular as support for my arguments. In my mind, the accident shows how there is insufficient oversight of the industry while also making it clear how complex deepwater drilling truly is. Clearly, the economic and financial benefits of the drilling are huge for both the companies as well as the average US citizen. However, the potential effects of a mistake can be disastrous for all involved, as was shown by the explosion and subsequent spill. It will be interesting to analyze the benefits and costs of drilling to form an argument for whether or not we should be aggressively participating in such activities. From an ethical standpoint, I will be forming my conclusions using the theory of Consequentialism.

Now to speak more to my book, I have found an interesting one that was written shortly after the accident. For this paper it will serve as a useful resource for information about the U.S government’s role in the industry. In particular, chapter 8 focuses on US energy policy over the course of the past 3 decades and how it set the stage for the accident to occur. The book also provides some key figures about our consumption and reliance on oil and the pace at which we are burning through the world’s oil reserves. I have found a lot of great quotes and will include one below:

“To note a figure from the Wall Street Journal, the world now uses up about a thousand barrels of its finite oil reserves every second. The United States has long been burning through that oil faster than any other country, even though we have only 5 percent of the world’s population. The same nation was for a very long time also the source of most of the world’s oil, but today, the United States has only about 2 percent of the world’s remaining proven reserves.” (20, Blowout in the Gulf: The BP Oil Spill Disaster and the Future of Energy in America)

To find this book, I used the Bucknell Library WorldCat and used the advanced search to find books that focused on BP and the energy industry as a whole.

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3 comments on “The State of US Energy Policy

  1. As of right now, before you have done a lot of research, do you think that the benefits outweigh the costs of offshore drilling?
    I wonder if your thoughts will change after you write your paper.

  2. You might even focus your case analysis more on the post-Deepwater moratorium on drilling. I think the organizational focus would be the Obama administration, or perhaps some other relevant agency. I am not sure if that moratorium was done through a particular agency like MMS, or the Coast Guard, or through an act of congress.

    If you dig into BP, be sure to stay focused on the level of the organization.

    Constitutionalism makes sense. Have you found something for that yet?

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