It’s a sensitive question for some and several media outlets created a buzz when rumors circulated that BP and the Department of Interior had reached a deal to commence drilling again nearly a year after the spill. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar quickly rebuffed any claims that BP and his agency had reached some sort of agreement to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz confirmed that there was no special deal in place with BP, saying, “There is no deal. There is no agreement. There is no draft agreement. There are no ongoing talks. There are no ongoing negotiations. We issue permits based on the merits of the application. We have issued no permits to BP to date.”

Secretary Salazar emphasized that “We treat every company with the same set of standards that we would treat everybody else. There is nothing here with BP that is different from what we will be doing with all the other companies that operate in the Gulf of Mexico.”

And that is part of the problem: treating every company with the same set of standards. Under the current system, there is no alignment of risk and behavior. An auto insurance company does not treat the driver with four crashes on his record the same as the driver with the spotless record. BP’s record has been far from spotless.

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