Monday, May 24, 2010

Obama administration continuing to issue drilling permits

The New York Times reports that the Obama administration is NOT halting off-shore oil drilling, that not only is it still issuing permits, some of the permits are for even deeper wells than the one now gushing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

In the days since President Obama announced a moratorium on permits for drilling
new offshore oil wells and a halt to a controversial type of environmental
waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig, at least seven new permits
for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted,
according to records.

The records also indicate that since the April 20
explosion on the rig, federal regulators have granted at least 19 environmental
waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits, most of
which were for types of work like that on the Deepwater Horizon shortly before
it exploded, pouring a ceaseless current of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Asked about the permits and waivers, officials at the Department of the
Interior and the Minerals Management Service, which regulates drilling, pointed
to public statements by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, reiterating that the
agency had no intention of stopping all new oil and gas production in the gulf.

...these waivers have been especially troublesome to environmentalists
because they were granted through a special legal provision that is supposed to
be limited to projects that present minimal or no risk to the environment.

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.

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