Oil Drilling Permits, Waivers Issued After Obama’s Moratorium
May 24, 2010
(ChattahBox)—The New York Times published a piece examining recent oil drilling permits issued, in the wake of President Obama’s moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore oil wells. And although, no permits or waivers were issued for entirely new projects, several were for ongoing projects, which although not technically in violation of the moratorium, nevertheless presents bad optics, in light of the Gulf oil disaster. And of particular concern; are the issuance of controversial environmental waivers.
According to a review of the records of the Department of the Interior and the Minerals Management Service, at least seven drilling permits and five environmental waivers have been granted, since Obama’s moratorium. And since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion on April 20, at least 19 controversial environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits have been issued.
But Department of Interior officials, respond that the moratorium does not cover existing drilling projects. According to The NY Times, “Department of the Interior officials said in a statement that the moratorium was meant only to halt permits for the drilling of new wells. It was not meant to stop permits for new work on existing drilling projects like the Deepwater Horizon.”
But critics find the environmental waivers most troubling, since BP was also issued such waivers. And the result is an out of control oil well, the company is unable to cap, which has been damaging the Gulf environment and destroying the fisheries industry:
“At least six of the drilling projects that have been given waivers in the past four weeks are for waters that are deeper — and therefore more difficult and dangerous — than where Deepwater Horizon was operating. While that rig, which was drilling at a depth just shy of 5,000 feet, was classified as a deep-water operation, many of the wells in the six projects are classified as “ultra” deep water, including four new wells at over 9,100 feet.”
Environmental groups have filed lawsuits, claiming the environmental waivers violate the spirit if not the intent, of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.
See The NY Times for more.