Not really disagreeing ... but adding my take on a few of your points.
As to whether the problems are related to "profit-making" organizations doing the drilling, do you think it would be any better if drilling was run by the government?
Doubtful. But I don't think the issue is public vs private. Neither BP nor the government would properly price risk. True-cost pricing would make deep water drilling too cost prohibitive. What's the current projected estimate for the clean-up effort? I've seen some estimates in the 100's of billions USD when they include ecosystem destruction, losses to local industry and livelihoods, harm to neighboring countries, long-term repercussions throughout the larger economy, etc. Collected, these externalities describe the true cost of deep-water drilling risk in a closed system, and should be factored into the price of every barrel of crude produced this way. But like many other industries, such externalities are not considered. If they were, fossil fuel extraction and consumption in general
would be cost comparable to other, more immediately expensive, renewable/green sources of energy.
It's like saying eating one fast food hamburger per day only
costs $1 per day. This ignores deferred externalities including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, petroleum consumption required to transport flash-frozen foods, the effects of wealth flowing from your community to fast food HQ, etc.
Obviously, it's very difficult to build a true cost assessment. The complexity of interconnectedness and uncertainty is overwhelming. But in the BP/GOM oil spill case, we'll learn retroactively what the cost of catastrophic risk is. From the Economist: "Gulf oil blowout - That's one way to price in externalities
For more on true-cost economics, the book An Introduction to Ecological Economics
(Costanza, Cumberland, etc.) is a good start. True-cost economics is aka ecological economics because it applies a systems-theory approach to the topic of economics.
I would say that the lesson of Chernobyl proves that wrong. Non-profits are also concerned about budgets, and if an individual person in charge makes a big mistake by taking excessive risks to advance their career, then it does not matter whether they work for a profit-making company or for the government.
Chernobyl is anecdotal and proves
nothing. It's like saying that:
1) The Chernobyl catastrophe was as a bad thing, and
2) Since Chernobyl was operated by the Ukrainian government,
3) therefore the Ukranian Government failed to prevent the bad thing, and
4) Since other countries also have governments,
5) therefore other governments will fail to prevent the same bad thing.
I agree with the rest of your comments re: incentives and excessive risk.