DEEPWATER HORIZON: Make BP pay and pay and pay.

  • DEEPWATER HORIZON: Make BP pay and pay and pay.

OK, I get it that Louisiana is supportive of offshore drilling (though the poll I’m about to link didn’t differentiate between deepwater and shelf drilling). It’s a huge industry worth billions.

But the BP disaster has made 28 percent of the people of Louisiana MORE supportive of offshore drilling? Something’s gone bad wrong with the schools in the Bayou State since I passed through. It’s now the Delta House. “Thank you, BP, for that trashing, may I have another?”

They love Bobby Jindal’s posturing in Louisiana, too. It is so much easier to say “build a barrier island” than it is to understand the time, effort, effectiveness and unintended consequences (damage to other terrain and wildlife) of such ideas. I do understand the frustration, though, particularly after watching people in scattered boats daub at oil slicks with tiny mops in the vast polluted bays of the Gulf. I found myself wanting to hear more from the former Navy submariner who’s proposed shutting down the well by non-nuclear explosion.

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That said, President Obama’s performance hasn’t been inspiring. It’s long past time for him to go all in with Huey Long-style populism, no matter what the people of Louisiana might think. They won’t be voting for a Democrat, much less a black one, anyway. Draw a line in the oil-stained sand. Take over BP. Remove any limit on what they must pay to make the world whole, even if it bankrupts them. Require tougher safety measures for future offshore drilling. If Canada can require relief wells along with new drilling and still make a profit, so can we. If not now, when?

A full-throated howl for the environment and beaches and pelicans and people versus consideration for the oil industry? I’d take my odds politically on the former, not to mention that it would be the right thing to do against the lying outlaws of BP.

(They’re now saying the “leak” could be 1.5 to 2.5 million gallons — 40,000 to 60,000 barrels — a day. At today’s prices, 40,000 barrels a day is more than $3 million worth of crude a day, or more than $1 billion a year. I think you could build some additional safety overhead into that take.)

UPDATE: Good speech by the president. He’s going to make BP pay whatever it takes, through an open-ended independently administered fund. He’ll insist on tougher regulation of drilling. He wants to restore the Gulf coast. It’s time for a transformative approach to green, clean energy and the economic benefits that could flow from it. Tightly constructed and well-delivered, it was a start.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln fired off a quick statement: