*Many people might not realize that in hazardous businesses, it usually doesn't even matter if the entity causing the accident was negligent - instead, strict liability applies to require responsibility of anyone who chooses to engage in the type of action where safety may be impossible to guarantee. Oil companies use their political power to mess up the law, however.
*Lifting the $75m liability cap needs to happen ASAP. While I think lifting the cap will probably avoid restrictions on ex post facto laws, I'm not 100% convinced. However, I'm pretty close to 100% convinced that any oil damage occurring after the cap is lifted, from either new oil being emitted or from the spread of existing spilled oil, will be subject to the new law and different cap. (Worth noting the cap only applies to regular negligence, not gross negligence, and I think there's a pretty good argument for gross negligence here.)
*Anyone who thinks there should be a new cap at $10b is saying the public should be held responsible for damage the spiller causes to the environment that exceeds the cap.
*Contrary to William, I think the pressure not to distribute dividends is legit when that money might be needed to fix the environment and compensate the people who've been wronged. My suggestion - put the money in escrow to be released with a later dividend if it's not needed. The stock price should then adjust to reflect the probability that BP won't need to dip into the dividend escrow to pay off its liabilities.
*It's a tougher argument, but also contrary to William, I think there's a legitimate claim that BP should pay for some or all of the costs of the drilling moratorium. The argument is strongest for costs/lost wages at rigs run by the companies involved in causing the current spill. The current disaster also makes the potential consequences of a similar disaster elsewhere so much worse that there's a decent argument that the current disaster truly caused the need for a moratorium. Finally, an ethical argument (not really a legal one, though) - the weak regulations are a result of BP's lobbying, in part, so it doesn't have much cause to say it shouldn't have to pay for a moratorium while the weak regulations are fixed.
*Pretty telling that a developing nation like Brazil required safeguards that the US considered optional. Pretty strong case demonstrating regulatory capture in the US.
*Without any sophisticated analysis to back it up, I think two years in is the point at which a new administration bears more responsibility for institutional failure than the old one does. So I still award Bush more blame than Obama for the terrible regulation. I suppose this doesn't quite fit with how I view responsibility for 9-11, but I'm willing to give some blame in that case to Clinton, while awarding special and majority discredit to Bush for not reacting to obvious warning signs.