Editor's note: One year ago Wednesday, BP's Macondo well exploded and started spilling what ended up being more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It was the worst oil spill ever in U.S. waters, eclipsing the 53 million gallons spilled when the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground in 1989. In honor of the spill's first anniversary, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen (Ret.) is creating the question this week. Allen led the federal government's response to the spill.
As the Department of Interior considers changes to the regulation of offshore drilling and Congress considers legislation there has been much discussion about "the safety case" approach to regulation.
The term "safety case" refers generally to a regulatory scheme that requires the oil company to conduct a risk assessment of the proposed drilling operation and submit a plan to mitigate the risks identified. How should the "safety case" be incorporated into legislation and regulation?
What portions of drilling systems (i.e. Blow out preventers) should be subject to third-party inspections?
What role should the industry have in promoting safety through industry led cooperation including research and development?