Trust Us, Asks Oil Industry in Face of Deepwater Drilling Moratorium

Oil sheen on the surface of Barataria Bay, west of Port Sulphur, La., on June 19, 2010. Sean Gardner / Getty Images

The oil industry would like us to trust them. Representatives of several companies will stand in front of a federal judge today and ask for a moratorium on deepwater drilling to be lifted. 

According to CNN, the argument made in their lawsuit is that the government has "no evidence that existing operations pose a threat to the gulf," and that the six-month ban on drilling beyond depths of 500 feet is therefore "invalid and unenforceable."

Critics of the moratorium say that it will hit an already economically challenged region even harder. The government argues that more work needs to be done to assess the issues associated with drilling at depth. BP CEO Tony Hayward argues ... well, nothing really. He was busy at a yacht race over the weekend

It would be hard to make a case against the millions of gallons of oil billowing into the Gulf of Mexico every day from 5,000 feet down under any circumstances. But yesterday Rep. Edward Markey released an internal BP document from just after that spill. As it was claiming to the public that its estimates predicted a leak of between 1,000 and 5,000 barrels per day, the document shows that their private worst-case-scenario was 100,000 barrels. Which might explain the quickly escalating figures we have heard since. 

Markey, according to CNN, said the document had raised "very troubling questions about what BP knew and when they knew it." It raises other troubling questions too. Like how a company with no adequate emergency plans was allowed to drill wells in water so deep only robots can operate in it. How they ignored those who warned them. And how an industry, watching a cataclysmic spill unfold, can argue that there is insufficient evidence of risk.