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Gulf oil spill: Did Big Oil run roughshod over regulators?

Why didn't the US Minerals Management Service require that Big Oil install secondary blowout preventers on oil rigs, as other countries have? Congress is investigating this and other issues.

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Gulf oil spill: Dave Nagel, executive vice president of BP America, leaves a closed-door meeting called by House Energy and the Environment subcommittee Chairman Rep. Ed Markey (D) of Massachusetts Tuesday. Markey says, 'Boosterism breeds complacency and complacency breeds disaster.'

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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After the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion turned into the potential ecological and economic nightmare now known as the BP spill, the Obama administration vowed to keep "the boot on the neck" of the British oil giant, which leased the rig and managed the drilling operation.

But even as Congress considers challenging the constitutional restraints against ex post facto laws in order to raise the $75 million damage cap for oil spill disasters, evidence is mounting that, despite myriad warnings of deepwater drilling risks, US regulators, in the run-up to the BP spill, hardly kept the boot on the necks of Big Oil companies working the depths along the US continental shelf.

Quite the opposite, in many cases.

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Alleged regulatory shortfalls are now under investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Committee on Natural Resources, which will focus both on the adequacy of BP's risk assessment as well as regulators' role, or culpability, in the disaster.

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