Thursday, April 21, 2011

Drill Baby Drill, But We Still Can't Contain A Spill

Since yesterday was the anniversary of the Gulf Disaster and I made a comment about new drilling permits being handed out freely without any new safety rules, I should've made some sort of reference to that point. Rachel Maddow had been hammering the administration about the rapid increase. In late February, Noble Energy, Inc. received the first new permit to drill in deep water, and they're now averaging five per week. As Rachel described it, “The government says that's because the oil industry has been, quote, complying with rigorous new safety standards implemented in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion. According to BOEMRE (The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.), these new permits show the industry has demonstrated the capability to contain a deepwater loss of well control and blowout.” Curious about these new standards, Maddow’s team asked to review Noble’s oil spill response plan. The plan they received was written in September 2009, seven months prior to the Gulf Disaster.
Maddow then reported:
“We contacted the government after we obtained this document because we thought somebody must have sent us the wrong thing. We thought we must have been sent by accident an old version of this oil response plan. They informed us that, in fact, we do have the most up-to-date version on hand. They also told us that in general rig operators are eligible to get new permits while they’re in the process of revising old oil spill response plans. So what exactly is the permitting process reviewing?”
After several critical segments, she finally landed an interview with, Michael Bromwich, Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. He's the guy in charge of handing out those permits. He pretty much told her that the Deepwater Horizon failure has changed nothing! AND when she asked him if he knew why oil rig workers in U.S waters are 4 times more likely to be killed at work than their peers in Europe, his answer was a simple no. Gee, maybe loose regulations to maximize money regardless of safety might have something to do with it?

And she reviewed her own interview a few days later:

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