Today's shutdown of BP's North Slope operations appears to be the result of the chronic mismanagement of its drilling operations in the U.S.  I questioned Department of Transportation officials in April about an earlier BP spill of 267,000 gallons of oil from Prudhoe Bay and learned that after the largest oil spill in the history of the North Slope (in March), that BP had not cleaned many of its pipelines for years - some for as many as 15 years.  Other pipelines up in Alaska are cleaned every few weeks.

BP's negligence is deplorable. And the DOT, which has oversight of these pipelines, must also be given the full powers needed to implement minimum maintenance standards so that these shutdowns are avoided. Right now, the Department has the power to step in after a spill, but lacks the full authority to regulate safety at this type of pipeline.

With oil above $70 per barrel and BP raking in record profits, surely it can afford to properly clean and maintain its pipelines. This shutdown will dramatically increase oil prices and the American people will be footing the bill for this massive failure of DOT's regulatory oversight and BP's corporate responsibility.