Obama Administration Exempted BP From Environmenal Impact Statement

Environmentalists are still fuming over the fact that President Barack Obama ignored warnings from NOAA about major spills from offshore rigs before he opened up the East Coast to drilling. Now, it turns out that the Administration exempted BP from doing an environmental impact statement and accepted dismissive accounts regarding the potential for spills.

The Interior Department under Secretary Ken Salazar exempted BP’s Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact analysis last year. That decision was made by the Minerals Management Service (MMS), which has been clouded in scandals involving corruption and close ties to industry. Environmentalists strongly opposed Ken Salazar because of his own close ties to drilling interests and generally poor environmental voting record.

Yet, the criticism of Obama in the aftermath of this tragedy has been quite modest. One can only imagine the outcry if President Bush opened up the East Coast to drilling, said that rigs do not cause spills (here), disregarded warnings about such spills from his own agency (here), and waived an environmental impact study based on the industry’s assurance. On top of that, Obama has been the largest recipient of BP campaign money (here). No one expects the President to follow waivers of impact studies — that is Salazar’s job. However, once again, the muted criticism from liberals is striking.

The MMS itself is often ridiculed as a rubber stamp. In this case, it lived up to its reputation. In one assessment, it stated that “a large oil spill” from a platform would not exceed a total of 1,500 barrels and that a spill “offshore of the inner Continental shelf,” would not reach the coast. In another assessment, it defined the most likely large spill as totaling no more than 4,600 barrels and, in a Limbaugh-like assessment, insisted that nature would take care of much of the problem.

Notably, the Administration is only willing to pause on its plan to open up the East Coast to drilling — not reverse its policy.

For the full story, click here.

21 thoughts on “Obama Administration Exempted BP From Environmenal Impact Statement

  1. Sickening. Although I hate Bush, and am a yellow dog democrat, personally like Obama and was thrilled to see an African American president, I couldn’t bring myself to vote for him because I thought he lacked experience. I know he was handed a mess, but I think he’s done a pretty poor job as president. I’d give him a C plus. And, a D for effort, leaving the heavy lifting on the health care bill to Reid and Pelosi. He only got involved when he saw the bill was going under. Another problem is this “team of rivals” approach to staffing his cabinet. I personally like Salazar, but he was a bad choice to head up the Dept of the Interior.

  2. Countdown did a segment last night making these same points. I hope that continues. The blowout occurred 20 hours after Halliburton finished its concrete operations. Heck of a job, Kenny.

  3. And the Nazi’s assured everyone that they too had everything under control. I am almost assured that the model that they used was looked at as an experiment without long lasting repercussions. Either government for all or government for none. Here lately it is government for some.

    I think some congressman introduced a bill that would limit the revolving door of government private sector employee. Hmm, I think the Rules of Professional Conduct addresses these same issues. But are they followed?

  4. Isabel Darcy and Nal are, sadly, right on target.

    We have many greedy politicians in office right now. Greedy for power, greedy for money, greedy for status. Whatever is in hand is not enough and so they constantly look for opportunities to grab more. It is the nature of greed.

    Thus far we have tolerated their failings … writing them off to failings of human nature. But, since the crash of the banks and investment houses and the bailout of same, our tolerant attitude has been shifting.

    The incredible damage done to the Gulf area by incompetents is just one more instance of greedy politicians giving greedy corporations free reign.

    As the oil spill is contained and cleaned up, it is our responsibility to do the same with the slick of greedy politicians who roam the halls of the Capitol and the White House. Just as the oil spill is ruining the environment of the Gulf, these politicians our destroying the environment of our government.

  5. Conservatives have been remarkably silent too. They can’t complain too much. The response to their criticism would be more regulation of the oil industry to prevent future spills. We all know how much conservatives love government regulation of the oil industry.

  6. Nal

    Conservatives have been remarkably silent too. They can’t complain too much. The response to their criticism would be more regulation of the oil industry to prevent future spills. We all know how much conservatives love government regulation of the oil industry.

    Obviously about as much as Obama.

  7. While I personally like Salazar, he has oil all over his hands. Me thinks he needs to step down.

    Obama needs to abandon any off-shore drilling plans – stat.

  8. They know they have lost the votes of the left to a certain degree, but they must figure they will pick up votes from the right to even it out?

  9. Dredd

    They know they have lost the votes of the left to a certain degree, but they must figure they will pick up votes from the right to even it out?

    Or they’ve worked out a deal with the Republicans to run another McCain/Palin pair?

  10. Here’s a blog article you may find interesting:

    From ThinkProgress (5/6/2010)
    EXCLUSIVE: BP Worked With FreedomWorks And The Chamber To Build ‘Grassroots’ Support For More Drilling
    by Lee Fang

    BP has long touted itself as a “green” company interested not only in oil and other fossil fuels, but in renewable energy like wind and solar. But as Rebecca Lefton reported on ThinkProgress last week, BP barely invests anything in clean energy — most of its green campaign is actually just a massive advertising gimmick to conceal the truth about the company.

    While BP has spent hundreds of millions building its brand, it has offshored the dirty work of promoting expanded drilling to right-wing front groups and trade associations. In a 2007 PowerPoint presentation obtained by ThinkProgress, BP appears to have been interested in fighting to open up protected waters to new offshore drilling. The presentation, organized by the BP-funded front group “Consumer Energy Alliance,” was delivered at the American Gas Association’s marketing meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The presentation calls for a five-year plan to build grassroots support to open wide swaths of both the East and West coasts to new drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf:

    – Slide 5 depicts a map of “undiscovered technically recoverable resources on Federal OCS” along the East coast, from Maine to Florida, and on the West coast, from Washington to California.

    – Slide 7 notes that expanding OCS access “provides univeral
    benefits to all sectors.” The page pitches the campaign to aid both the oil and natural gas industry.

    – Slide 9 lists the 5 year plan “strategic priorities,” including “military/veterans groups,” “energy consumers,” “editorial boards/letters to the editor,” and “academia & think tanks.”

    Read the rest here: http://thinkprogress.org/2010/05/06/bp-freedomworks-ocs/

  11. A quote from a Dan Froomkin column on HuffPo that provides a depressing but illuminating observation about the oil that’s gushing into the Gulf:

    “…After all, that carbon we’re seeing poison the Gulf was headed into the planetary ecosystem anyway, through tailpipe emissions.

    “That’s part of the irony of all this, is it just took a shortcut,” Steiner said. “This carbon took a shortcut into the environment from what it normally does, and it’s obvious to people what the problem is here.”


  12. Jon, shame! Did you not do your homework! Journalism 101 begins with research and we deserve better than this. I’ve worked on NEPA documents and exemptions called Categorical Exemptions for more than 30 years. MMS has been using CEs and exemptions for decades, just like most other federal agencies. All drilling requires review under NEPA- National Environmental Policy Act. The Act requires(MMS) complete a review of drilling risks, determine long-term damage vs short-term ($$) gains, cumulative impacts and a key element -involve fishermen, hotels, and the $$50-$$60 Billion dollar industry we call the gulf coastal peoples. If there is risk and there always is, a plan is put in place for cleanup and mitigation. A federal spill plan or cleanup was needed after Exxon failed to have all the equipment in place to recover oil from the Valdez tanker. In fact, the Coast Guard failed to keep tabs on most spill recovery plans until the Exxon Valdez. NEPA was pretty much ignored in Alaska.

    I’ve endured dozens of EAs and CEs, MMS puts out. All agencies + contractors try to go the cheapest route. I’ve reviewed Energy Dept EAs that exempt radiation in drinking water 10,000 higher than allowed by State Health regs. For oil, each EIS or EA is written under a broader programmatic EIS document covering the entire lease area. There maybe hundreds of wells and dozens of platforms that require NEPa review. I used a little e here for MMS, because MMS exempted NEPa review for years prior to Obama.
    For most federal agencies NEPA is a real pain. Each year we(you the taxpayer) spend litterally billions of taxdollars on NEPA documents and process. In most cases it is just a paper chase, a permit hurdle to get over.
    MMS or Mineral Mgmt. Service brought this paper chase to a new level in the last 10 years, especially under vp, Dick Cheney. Dick of course was better known as running Haliburton. Having moved them overseas to Dubai to avoid US taxes and lawsuits, Dick proceeded to appoint people at MMS more tolerant of oil & gas drilling. Well I could go into greater detail but I won’t- if interested Google up MMS and Denver and drugs/bribes, etc..

    Let’s just leave it at this: most of all the MMS NEPA documents pre Obama were CEs or small version EAs. MMS collects some $30-50 Billion annually for you- after all it’s your oil, not Dick’s.
    IF you’d really like to look at MMS Jon, look into how they cheat us out of $500 million each year for “in-kind” oil, passed by a conservative party, lobbied by/for big oil! Check out the number of wells they’re sitting on, capped and ready to make big profits when oil hits $150 and gas goes for $5(again, ck Dick)

    Why is the GOP siding with oil? Because they gave Mccain the same amount ($$3million)as they did Obama. But under GOP white houses they Deregulated big oil; we ended up with 5 big oil firms and a 50% reduction in refinery capacity. That’s right, they closed more than 1/2 of all refineries in 10 years (363 refinerys to just 162).Then they deregulate big banks, well 5 banks(27,000 banks to just 7000) and the great recession came.

    Remember Enron? How about Sen. Graham(TX and his wife apppointed to CBT(chicago board of trade). Why? so they could exempt ENron from oversight on eleticity futures trading floor…the CA blackouts..I’ll go on but not today. Jon next ttime please do your homework! Thanks, but I’m a guy and conservative in de oil fields that knows the difference from TRUTH and ___, well a dirty oil spill.
    PS For productive readers, try this:
    1. Cut up BP, EXxon cards, send em back with a note & pay cash;
    2. Try to carpool: 2 people carpooling cuts traffic by 1/2, cuts oil and road building by 1/2, cuts deaths in Iraq by 500,000;
    3. Don’t buy terrorist oil/gas…Shell, BP Exxon, Citgo, Chevron;
    4. When you read poor journalism, please tell somebody!!

  13. I like this idea, “1. Cut up BP, EXxon cards, send em back with a note & pay cash;2. Try to carpool: 2 people carpooling cuts traffic by 1/2, cuts oil and road building by 1/2, cuts deaths in Iraq by 500,000” although I don’t know about that last bit…cutting down the traffic is just common sense.

    But according to Snopes;[http://www.snopes.com/politics/gasoline/saudigas.asp] the rest is just not feasible from the standpoint of a commuter….

    ‘Oil companies sell their output through a variety of outlets other than their branded stations (and in countries other than the U.S.); as well, by the time crude oil gets from the ground into our gasoline tanks, there’s no practical way for consumers to know exactly where it came from.’

  14. I know this is not related to the current environmental meltdown but this website purports to know more about ‘terror free oil’ [like whose gas to buy] and is endorsed by a bunch of peeps and orgs. Does anyone have any info on them?


  15. Guess Hussien gonna need to allocate another 12 Trillion for cleanup and loss of coast industry caused by this. No problem, just crank up the presses to high speed and deflate our dollar even more. This may be the icing on the cake getting us all to a 3rd. world country by the end of his term.

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