No one envies BP's top brass this week. The company's executives have a full schedule of hearings on Capitol Hill over the next several days, as well as a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, at which they are sure to be asked a great many questions about the still-ongoing Gulf of Mexico oil spill that BP simply can't answer. Faced with the prospect of penalties and drilling moratoriums on its U.S. operations, the company is reportedly planning to tell Obama that, in the Financial Times' words, "crippling the company would not be in the interests of the U.S. or its future energy security."
That two-word phrase--"energy security"--is an idea invoked frequently by everyone from oil company executives to green-energy proponents, and one that has taken center stage in the United States since the Gulf spill. Last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar cited energy security in explaining the need to continue drilling in the outer continental shelf. Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman have argued that their new clean energy and climate bill will help the United States achieve energy security. Obama's new National Security Strategy, published last month, invokes energy security no fewer than four times.