Interior Secretaries Called Out by House Panel For Lax Oversight Of Oil Drilling
July 20, 2010
(Chattahbox) – A House Committee memo got tough on the Interior Secretaries under Presidents Obama and George W. Bush for not strictly monitoring offshore drilling. The memo (via the Huffington Post) calls out the Mineral Management Service for exempting BP from a required environmental review and letting them alter the drilling site in a way that may have contributed to the catastrophic explosion.
The memo states that although then-Secretary Gale Norton was warned several times that the offshore blowout preventers were unreliable, she did nothing to try to prevent a tragedy like we experienced. Her successor, Dirk Kempthorne, claimed that the Macondo well (the source of the spill) would only leak 4,600 barrels in the event of an explosion; scientists estimate that the damaged pipeline has spilled between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels each day since April 20th. Norton, Kempthorne, and current Secretary Ken Salazar will have to testify about their actions at a congressional hearing on Tuesday.
Meanwhile with oil once again leaking from its containment-cap system, BP is turning to an old plan that it says would permanently stem the Gulf oil leak according to the NY Times. Drawing on a previous failure, it will use the “static kill method” again, in which heavy mud would be pumped into BP’s new containment cap, forcing the gas and oil back underground, using the same “top kill” equipment that failed in May. If BP goes ahead with the procedure, then the relief wells, which will not be completed until August, will only be needed to confirm that the “static kill” had worked.