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Regulatory Illusion – Brian Horejsi

Regulatory Illusion – Brian Horejsi

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The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico briefly focused attention on how the oil and gas industry exploits public resources with little or no accountability. But the larger problem of how corporations and governments engage in a charade of regulation proceeds largely unnoticed. This sham regulatory process has failed to stem the large and growing ecological, social, economic, and democratic costs thrust on the public.
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico briefly focused attention on how the oil and gas industry exploits public resources with little or no accountability. But the larger problem of how corporations and governments engage in a charade of regulation proceeds largely unnoticed. This sham regulatory process has failed to stem the large and growing ecological, social, economic, and democratic costs thrust on the public.

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Published by: Post Carbon Institute on Sep 12, 2013
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05/15/2014

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REGULATORYILLUSION
BRIAN HOREJSI
 
This publication is an excerpted chapter rom
The Energy Reader: Overdevelopment and the Delusion o Endless Growth
, Tom Butler, Daniel Lerch, and George Wuerthner,eds. (Healdsburg, CA: Watershed Media, 2012).
The Energy Reader 
is copyright© 2012 by the Foundation or Deep Ecology, and published in collaboration withWatershed Media and Post Carbon Institute.For other excerpts, permission to reprint, and purchasing visit energy-reality.org or contact Post Carbon Institute.Photo: George Wuerthner.
 A working oil well near the Oklahoma capitol building suggeststhe pro-drilling attitude in many oil-producing states.
about the author
Brian L. Horejsi
is a wildlie scientist with a PhD rom the University o Calgary and a BS in orestry rom theUniversity o Montana. Formerly a range management orester or the Alberta Forest Service, he has conductedstudies o grizzly and black bears, bighorn sheep, moose, and caribou, and or more than two decades he has beena conservation biology consultant and activist ocused on preserving biological diversity. He lives in the RockyMountain oothills.
Post Carbon Institute | 613 4th Street, Suite 208 | Santa Rosa, California 95404 USA
 
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here are ew people in North America who werenot aware o, and to some degree disturbed by, theoil slick that began squeezing the aquatic and terrestriallie out o the Gul o Mexico as a consequence o the2010 BP Macondo well (Deepwater Horizon) drillingdisaster. As was the case with the 1989 Exxon Valdezspill in the Gul o Alaska, the ull extent o the damagewill take decades to maniest itsel.I anything positive can be gleaned rom this catastro-phe, it is that some o the American people and someo the more progressive media are beginning to realizethat the oil and gas industry “owns” American govern-ment “regulators,” a ailure o democratic governancethat stretches back at least to 1981 when Ronald Reaganbrought his deregulation club to Washington. Other realities are being exposed as well, oremost amongthem that the oil and gas industry makes an awul loto money by drastically minimizing the risks o prac-tices that have severely damaged—quite likely or a verylong time—nearly continent-size ecosystems.None o these observations are new to people whomonitor or investigate the oil and gas industry. Thecitizens and organizations that work to expose the truthabout the industry are not trying to be secretive, buttheir message has been muted; or decades now, theyhave been exposed to a crippling campaign o exclusionby mainstream media. Industry watchers have sueredrom media suppression, ridicule, and abuse, as well aspolitical, social, and economic persecution ueled by aconstant barrage o industry misrepresentation.It is a common deception—careully constructed like ahouse o smoke and mirrors by “regulators,” politicians,and the oil and gas industry—that a air, systematic,scientically legitimate, and deliberative process existsthrough which a company must proceed in order todrill a well or lay pipe, whether it be in the rolling hillso Wyoming or the rippling waters o Louisiana. Thepublic believes that regulators, the men and womenwho wear the title
 public servant 
, engage in objectiveand inclusive analysis o the ecological, economic, andsocial impacts o any proposed development in order togauge the merits o an application. The reality, how-ever, is that the oil and gas industry, collaborating withgovernments swayed by campaign unding, has hijackedwhat should be a legally protected, scientically sound,accountable, and highly public process. Just months ater the Deepwater Horizon disaster, amajor 
Washington Post 
article by journalists Juliet Eilperinand Scott Higham described a cozy decades-long rela-tionship between the oil industry and the ederal agen-cies that were supposed to be regulating it.
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The storybegins with the 1970 National Environmental PolicyAct (NEPA), which gave government agencies author-ity to require an environmental impact statement or 
 
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexicobriefly focused attention on how the oil and gas industryexploits public resources with little or no accountability.But the larger problem of how corporations andgovernments engage in a charade of regulation proceedslargely unnoticed. This sham regulatory process hasfailed to stem the large and growing ecological, social,economic, and democratic costs thrust on the public.

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