The Gulf is slowly in it's death throws. Maybe if "they" get it capped in time, it will not be destroyed. Unlike many on the political Left, I don't rush to argue that drilling needs to be stopped altogether. This helps no one. What does need to happen, is that BP ought to be expropriated with no compensation. This is not only the socialist inside me arguing this. It's what they deserve.
Secondly, we need to start taking back OUR resources from those that ruthlessly, and carelessly, exploit them. How many people know that much/lots/most of that oil they pump out is sold on the world market and is not directed toward the U.S.? An interesting factoid me thinks...
But more to the point.
The political-economy of this disaster aside for a bit, part of this issue is why they drill in deep water and under what kind of regulations. We know now that the "Build oil refineries in Yellow Stone party" Interior Sect'y under Regean, James Watts, built this fake regulatory committee to 'oversee' the oil companies so they wouldn't be stymied by real regulations like the NRC does with our nuclear industry.
So...what does this all mean? Well, for starters, we ought to have a serious open ocean regulatory authority like the NRC has with nuclear: completely financed by fees levied on oil extraction (a national oil excise tax to start wouldn't be bad).
Secondly, they would have the right to stop, inspect, throw-in-jail, anyone in the industry that could potentially cause harm to people first and then the environment...exactly as the NRC does today. This means WELL PAID inspectors who live under constant auditing provisions of their income. It means a commission, not a small committee buried in the Interior Dept.
Thirdly, all drilling equipment would have to be "N-stamped". The "N-Stamp" on a piece of equipment means that it was produced at a facility designated as modern enough, precise enough, with enough exacting standards to make nuclear equipment for our nuclear power plants. There are only about 50 facilities in the US with "N-Stamp" approval. This stamp is issued by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers is recognized not only by the NRC but also nuclear regulatory agencies around the world.
The Nuclear Component Certification Program of ASME is extremely tough and covers everything from component design to component alloys to tolerances to installation. It is a higher standard than that which NASA and the FAA applies to aerospace. This is the reason there are no catastrophic equipment failures in the US and most of the worlds nuclear industry that uses ASME certification.
If the blowout preventer had been built to NCCP/ASME specs, it simply would not of failed. Yes it would cost BP and every oil drilling company money...but so what?
NRC application to oil drilling procedures would insure the huge miscommunication and BP's insistence on short cuts would of been...short cutted right off the rig.
This would of included the right of "Right of Line Stop" by anyone on the rig if they suspected anything was amiss. This means anyone could shut down the process for an immediate investigation with no questions asked and liabilities put on the company for any harrasement of any employee engaging in a line stop call.
That's my long term solution to this. Along with electric vehicles, etc.