U.S. Exempted BP’s Gulf Drilling Operation from Environmental Impact Study

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

As the cable news media basks in the diversionary story of the Times Square Bomber, the Washington Post — to it’s credit, today reports shocking details of how the US Interior Department exempted BP’s Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact study last year, according to government documents, after three reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely.

The decision by Interior’s Minerals Management Service to exempt BP from any environmental impact study and grant lease rights at Deepwater Horizon on April 6, 2009 followed intense lobbying efforts by BP to convince Federal regulators that an accident of the scale of the one unfolding in the gulf was unlikely. BP’s lobbying efforts were successful.

MMS assessed the environmental impact of drilling in the western and central Gulf of Mexico on three occasions in 2007 and in each case, played down the prospect of a major blowout. In one assessment, the agency estimated that “a large oil spill” from a platform would not exceed a total of 1,500 barrels and that a “deepwater spill,” occurring “offshore of the inner Continental shelf,” would not reach the coast. In another assessment, it defined the most likely large spill as totaling 4,600 barrels and forecast that it would largely dissipate within 10 days and would be unlikely to make landfall.

Kierán Suckling, executive director of the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, said the federal waiver “put BP entirely in control” of the way it conducted its drilling. “The agency’s oversight role has devolved to little more than rubber-stamping British Petroleum’s self-serving drilling plans,” Suckling said.

Each day that the leaking oil well remains uncapped, scientists and energy industry observers are imagining outcomes that range from bad to worse to worst, with some forecasting a calamity of historic proportions. Executives from oil giant BP and other energy companies shared their own worst-case scenario in a Capitol Hill meeting with lawmakers, saying that if they fail to close the well, the spill could increase from an estimated 5,000 barrels a day to 40,000 barrels or possibly even 60,000 barrels.

This entry was posted in British Petroleum, Congress, Corporate Greed, Environment, Gulf Oil Spill, News and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to U.S. Exempted BP’s Gulf Drilling Operation from Environmental Impact Study

  1. Mets Fan says:

    As the cable news media basks in the diversionary story of the Times Square Bomber…

    Ka-ching! I think we have a winner.

    The cable drones are all located within blocks of Times Square.

    CNN’s EEOC anchors, Keith and all the FOX blondes, don’t have to travel to Mississippi or Louisiana and do any hard reporting on the ground.

    They can get in a taxi or a limo and set up shop on 42nd St. and report from the very spot where the SUV was parked.

    Meanwhile, no one even mentions the oil spill now.

  2. Scott Dancer says:

    Obama biggest recipient of BP cash


    During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.

  3. Scott Dancer,

    Thanks for the link. I’m going to post this on my Facebook page.

    Obama needs to give this money back — it’s tainted and dirty. But he won’t. I’m sure it’s already spent.

  4. Joe in Colorado says:

    So then, as I read this report, the exemption amounts to nothing less than the proverbial “smoking gun” and those in Interior who signed off on the decision are guilty of criminal behavior and dereliction of duty. I wonder how far up the food chain this will go?

  5. retahyajyajav says:

    Joe in Colorado — It goes deeper than a Smoking Gun.

    April 6, 2009 is nine weeks after Obama was sworn in as president (Jan. 20, 2009.) This means Interior was under the control of his administration.

    We can’t blame Bush for this one, as much as I might want to.

    If he is the biggest recipient of BP cash and his Interior granted BP an environmental study exemption for their Gulf of Mexico operations, then he’s exposed to legal liability.

  6. Arizona Leatherneck says:

    Christopher, It looks like we were onto to the real story when I posted about the possibility of a diversion and you defended me.

    So many people I know accused me of wearing a tin foil hat but now we learn President Obama received the most coin from BP of any politician in 20 years.

    What have learned? All Washington politicians suck.

  7. Kate Novotny says:

    Barack Obama
    Mary Landrieu
    David Vitter
    Bobby Jindal

    All need to get the God damned check book out and return the donations to British Petroleum.

    “I’m not trying to be a watchdog for BP or the oil industry. I think this industry has very tight regulations and good regulations.” — Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

  8. Arizona Leatherneck,

    I’ve been following politics long enough to know, if you have billions of dollars to work with, then just about anything is possible.

    And when it comes to Big Oil, who have more money to use to rearrange the Chess pieces?

    In 2008, during the Bush administration Big Oil pocketed a staggering $656 billion, which is nearly two-thirds of a trillion dollars.

    This is why I am suspect about the timing of the Times Square Bomber. It was too convenient and so amateurish but it succeeded in redirected the braindead media away from the Gulf oil spill.

  9. Harry says:

    Why is no one else reporting this story about Interior giving British Petroleum a free pass? All I hear about is the American Taliban bomber.

  10. fran says:

    To ice this cake, people who showed up to volunteer to help lay out boom barriers, etc, were given a waiver form to sign, so if they got injured, BP would not be held liable!
    It’s since been rescinded, but they first & foremost concerned about covering their asses!

    Meanwhile, wildlife in the are are showing up dead and distressed. Fishing has been shut down (a huge industry). They will see if they can get the cap experiment to work.

    People like Landry making public statements in defense of Drill Baby Drill should be made to eat tainted seafood & go swim in it.

  11. Prairiedog says:

    I just heard one well is successfully capped. Two wells, have failed to be successfully capped.

    If you think the party opposite isn’t going to try and connect the dots; Obama on BP’s payroll, and then Obama’s Interior letting BP drill without first filing an environmental study, then you’re crazy.

    Especially in an election year.

  12. bradfrmphnx says:

    The really bad thing about this is, one switch(ram) that cost half a million dollars would have prevented this, even with the failure of the other 2 switches. No other country in the world allows off shore drilling without that switch – only the US does.

    And, the only reason the US allows it is because … During the President Cheney/Bush years, Cheney went to a 3 day, closed door meeting with the oil companies (of course, he was also just recently employed by Halliburton and still held hundreds of thousands of shares of Halliburton stock, but who’s keeping track of conflicts of interest like that) – anyway, after that 3 day, closed door meeting, not only were a lot of oil industry regulations removed, the required use of that one switch was also removed, too.

    Cheney quite possibly sold out the Gulf ecosystem and the ecosystem of the Eastern shoreline for a half a million bucks. Incredulous.

  13. Conejo1982 says:

    I read where Cheney jetted off to Saudi Arabia as soon as the oil rig exploded. I guess he wanted to assure his Arab/OPEC pals that the US Congress won’t do anything crazy like pass more stringent environmental laws.

  14. Jolly Roger says:

    Politico is on a jihad; their headlines are getting ever-more hysterical. I do have serious reservations about the Interior Department giving BP this exemption, but I’d like to see when this effort was started, and how much information passed from one Administration to the next one.

  15. Jim says:

    Unbelievable. The rules should be followed by ALL companies, with safety as the first rule.

  16. Bob says:

    MMS did this in 2007. Which administration was in charge then?


  17. mauigirl says:

    I’m sure there is enough blame to go around. And yes, Obama was in charge when the exemption was given, so he shares it. But I’m sure much of the other laxness in the rules has stemmed from Bush/Cheney. The whole thing is heartbreaking and I am just hoping they can stop the oil from leaking any further.

  18. InSpire says:

    A simple and green way to clean up Gulf oil spill …


  19. Frank says:

    But I’m sure much of the other laxness in the rules has stemmed from Bush/Cheney. —- Continued by the Obama Administration. He is accountable as well and Bush is no longer the president. Obama can no longer use Bush as a scapegoat. Especially when the Obama Administration issued environmental exemptions and waivers in 2009 and 2010.

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