The Gulf Spill – what does it mean for Michigan?

15 Jun 2010

The President will address the Nation tonight and certainly he will discuss tightening regulations; spending money on the gulf cleanup and holding BP accountable. None of this affects Michigan directly, but we will likely see an increase in exploration in Northern Michigan for oil and gas (as deep sea drilling becomes more expensive and more difficult to get permission) and this has already started to happen. Certainly, we will see a greater emphasis on ensuring that Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plans are up to date, realistic and that necessary equipment is available.

Certainly, Michigan tourism and fish products should see a boost as dollars move away from the Gulf, but assuming that President Obama calls for a “Manhattan Project” or Kennedyesque “moon project” to transform the United States’ energy economy, there will be numerous opportunities. Michigan has been positioning itself as the “battery state” particularly for the new electric batteries (who could’ve forseen just 60 days ago that the impetus for fully electric cars might accelerate from years to months?). But even more importantly, if we are to move from a carbon based economy (or just get off of oil to start), there are going to be huge transformations and opportunities.

Will the President call on Congress to tax oil? Will he push for a revised version of the Kerry-Lieberman bill (likely the oil drilling piece of that bill is off the table – requiring major modifications and even bigger compromises in Congress)? Will he call for a carbon tax or cap and trade? Will Congress respond to the huge outcry of anger over the BP disaster in the gulf in a dynamic new way? The last time there was a major spill in the gulf was in 1979 and Congress banned deep sea drilling there until just a few years ago. I expect that “business as usual” is over for the foreseeable future.

Let’s see what gets proposed tonight and be ready to build on that.

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