Sunday, June 20, 2010

Obama administration still giving waivers & exemptions for unsafe oil drilling projects

Despite President Obama's promises of better safeguards for offshore drilling, federal regulators continue to approve plans for oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico with minimal or no environmental analysis.

The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service has signed off on at least five new offshore drilling projects since June 2, when the agency's acting director announced tougher safety regulations for drilling in the gulf, a McClatchy Newspapers review of public records has found.

Three of the projects were approved with waivers exempting them from detailed studies of their environmental impact - the samewaiver the MMS granted to BP for the ill-fated well that has been fouling the gulf with crude for two months.

In a May 14 speech in the Rose Garden, Obama said he was "closing the loophole that has allowed some oil companies to bypass some critical environmental reviews." Environmental groups, however, say that the loophole is as wide as ever and that the administration is allowing oil companies to proceed with drilling plans that might be just as flawed as BP's...

Congressional investigators found that 11 days before the April 20 explosion aboard BP's Deepwater Horizon rig, the company sent a letter to federal officials [the letter was sent to the White House Council On Environmental Quality, which is headed by Obama apointee, Nancy Sutley] urging them to continue issuing the waivers "to avoid unnecessary paperwork and time delays."

"The fact that the agency continued to spit them out while oil was pouring into the gulf is just ridiculous to the extreme," said Mike Senatore, an attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, a nonprofit environmental group.
Sadly, Mr. Senatore fails to comprehend that the President has been forced to spend much-needed leisure time at the Golf course, and he may be too busy to block the oil companies from working on projects that lack the most elementary and basic safety standards.

Mr. Senatore also fails to recognize that the Obama administration - in 2009 - had absolutely no choice but "to support the reversal of a court order that would have halted offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico", due to the fact that Obama has been the biggest recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years. Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, [another big-time recipient of BP cash who has long had close ties to the industry] - when pushing to reverse the aforementioned court order - "specifically cited BP’s Deepwater Horizon operation as one that should be allowed to go forward, according to a group involved in the court case."

Here's the way it works: When one receives big bucks from a particular benefactor, he has no choice but to show that benefactor a bit of gratitude by backing him [them] to the hilt. Hence, the President and his administration are clearly not at fault for the oil spill and all the new and unsafe drilling projects that are currently taking off in the Gulf. And yet, there are some who prefer to criticize the President for his inadvertently lackadaisical response to the oil spill and his blameless, faultless and helpless indifference to the people living in the Gulf Coast - when, in reality, the blame should be placed solely and exclusively at Tony Hayward's doorstep; for indeed the buck stops with Mr. Hayward, and not with the White House.

Nevertheless, it goes without saying that the President is fully capable of turning this whole thing around - and that will indeed happen, if he finds a way to improve his performance at the golf course....

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