Marine Transportation System

Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Searching for Common Sense in the Gulf

In Environment, Federal Government on August 3, 2010 at 8:34 am

Around the time that the Clinton Administration tried to tackle the abundance of red tape in Washington, with VP Al Gore in charge of the regulatory reform effort, a great small book was published.   It is Philip K. Howard’s “The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America.”

Philip Howard’s book came to mind when I listened to this Marketplace story on the radio.  The piece by Stephen Beard is about Dutch expertise, a Dutch approach to addressing an oil spill, and how that compares to what took place in Gulf waters.

No, I’m not leaping aboard the SS Anti-Jones Act whose crew thought they found a rhetorical goldmine in the Gulf.  (Nor am I a JA apologist.)  For an intelligent discussion on what role US cabotage law did or did not play in the Gulf response look here.

The Marketplace piece is not just about oil skimming equipment and berm building.  It is about taking charge.  It is about being prepared.  It’s about bringing all the smart people and into the room and all available resources to the task.  And maybe it is even about giving a little less attention to the default positions (litigation potential and fine points of regulation) when a prompt response to a crisis is required.  If that didn’t happen it’s a shame.   Pbea