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August 15 2012


August 06 2012


The Arctic Drilling Countdown

The interior secretary is on his way to Alaska, but Obama administration officials caution that this doesn't mean that permits are imminent for Shell.
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January 13 2012


December 14 2011


BP Returns to Deepwater Offshore Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

BP, the oil major responsible for the biggest offshore oil disaster in U.S. history, is officially returning to deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The Obama Interior Department "awarded" BP $27 million worth of leases for oil-and-gas exploration in the Gulf waters into which the company and its accomplices dumped roughly 5 million barrels of oil in April 2010.


The Interior Department conducted its first Gulf lease sale since the BP disaster and announced today the winning bids from 20 different companies totaling $712 million. Adding a strange insult to injury, the lease sale was conducted in New Orleans, home to many fishermen and small business owners whose livelihoods were imperiled by BP's reckless drilling disaster.

In its coverage, BP Awarded $27 Million in Leases for Gulf Oil, Gas Exploration, the National Journal reports that:

BP bid a total of $109.9 million on 15 leases and won 11 for $27.4 million, Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reported in a list of sales posted on its website.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said:

This marks a milestone with respect to the greatest overhaul in the America’s history,” Salazar said of the offshore-drilling safety reforms and changes implemented by Interior since the April 2010 explosion of a BP well in the Gulf led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. “We believe we can move forward with oil and gas development.”

The only milestone this really marks is the renewed guarantee that the oil industry will continue to destroy the Gulf of Mexico one disaster at a time in its pursuit of dangerous, extreme energy. 

Forbes' coverage includes this astonishing set of quotes from the head of BOEMRE:

Michael Bromwich, director the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was quoted today defending BP. “They don’t have a deeply flawed record offshore,” he reportedly said. “We’ve done analyses over time on the relative safety records of offshore operators and they wre in close to the top crew.”
Bromwich added: “The question is, do you administer the administrative death penalty based on one incident?,” Bromwich told reporters. “And we’ve concluded, I’ve concluded, that’s not appropriate in these circumstances.”

In case there was any doubt in your mind, Bromwich's logic here confirms that the Obama administration has returned to the status of Big Oil lapdog in hideous fashion today.

Any bets on which oil major will offer Mr. Bromwich a job when he's finished aiding and abetting industry in the destruction of the Gulf? 

September 13 2011


Farewell to an Acronym

The Interior agency that policies offshore drilling, referred to by some critics as "bummer," will split into two parts with different names.

June 06 2011


Oil Drilling Off Cuba Raises Specter of What-If

The prospect of a blowout in Cuban waters may give the Obama administration an incentive to open the way for emergency assistance from the United States.

May 12 2011


House Passes Third Drilling Bill

May 12, 2011 Washington, D.C. — By a vote of 243-179 the House of Representatives passed a third drilling bill that aims to increase oil production in the Outer Continental Shelf, leaving southern California, all of the Atlantic Coast, Bristol Bay in Alaska and the Arctic Ocean vulnerable to a BP oil spill disaster. Sponsored [...]

March 31 2011


The Ticking Time Bombs In The Gulf of Mexico

49 weeks have passed since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in millions of barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf, and yet the same fatal flaws that doomed that rig are still present in most offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

The reason that BP’s Macondo well managed to leak oil into the Gulf was because the blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon rig malfunctioned, meaning that the preventer could not blow up and seal off the well. But the Deepwater Horizon is not the only rig that contained a malfunctioning blowout preventer. According to new reports, blowout preventers on rigs throughout the Gulf have not been properly inspected or maintained, meaning that another rig explosion could result in more oil in the Gulf. <!--break-->
Steve LeVine writing for Foreign Policy outlines the problem:

“The oil industry has known for many years that the blowout preventers work in only a fraction of accidents, and that they have been prone to failure, especially as drilling has moved into deeper water, requiring thicker, tougher pipe. In 2004, a study commissioned by federal regulators found that only three of 14 newly built rigs had blowout preventers that could squeeze off and cut the pipe at the water pressure likely to be experienced at the equipment’s maximum water depth.”

But the flawed designs in the blowout preventers go even deeper than that. As Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) noted in a hearing last year as Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations of the BP blowout case:

“We uncovered an astonishing document that Transocean prepared in 2001, when it bought the blowout preventer from Cameron. I would like to display the executive summary from this document. It says there are 260 separate “failure modes” that “could require pulling of the BOP.””

So how could oil rigs get away with having faulty emergency equipment installed? Weren’t there any federal regulators inspecting these rigs? The answer is both “yes” and “no.” MMS regulators were required to inspect all aspects of oil rigs operating in American waters, but when it came time to do the reports, they decided that it would be best to just let the rigs – the oil companies who own the rigs, that is – fill out the inspection reports themselves in pencil, and then MMS officials would simply trace over their pencil marks in ink. MMS inspectors took the oil companies’ words as truth, and submitted these reports for filing.

No real inspections, and no accountability.

But if you think that the story ends with oil rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico with faulty equipment, then think again. Believe it or not, there are actually bigger problems in the water than malfunctioning safety equipment. Reports from last summer identified 27,000 abandoned oil wells littered across the Gulf of Mexico. And these wells don’t even have the benefit of a cursory oil company-sponsored inspection – these wells have remained untouched for years, and no one knows if they are properly sealed off and secure.

To make things worse, there are an additional 3,500 “temporarily abandoned” wells in the Gulf. By declaring a well “temporarily abandoned,” companies can avoid all of the requirements that are supposed to ensure the safety of “permanently abandoned” wells, making these 3,500 the biggest time bombs in the Gulf.

With soaring gas prices hitting every American in the wallet pretty hard, the renewed calls for “drill baby, drill” are becoming louder and louder. The shock from the BP blowout has worn off for most of the public, but rest assured, those of us like myself living on the Gulf Coast are reminded of the dangers every day – with every tar ball that rolls ashore, with every new oil sheen spotted in the water – we remember.

March 17 2011


Oil Industry to Form Safety Group

Operating under the umbrella of the American Petroleum Institute, the group will seek to improve the oil industry's self-regulation even as federal officials tighten government oversight.

February 08 2011


Does a Drilling Boom Beckon?

Ensco's acquisition of Pride International creates a global behemoth, and stock shares of other oil drillers are rising in anticipation of an industrywide consolidation that will enable several companies to invest vast amounts of money in deepwater prospecting.

February 05 2011


Shell Oil to Forego 2011 Arctic Ocean Drilling

  Adequate spill plan and thorough environmental review needed before any future drilling is considered February 3, 2011 Anchorage, AK —  Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe provided this reaction to the announcement from Shell Oil that it would not pursue offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean in 2011. The drilling was planned for waters just offshore [...]

January 18 2011


May 28 2010


Administration Announces Much Needed Time Out on Arctic Oil Drilling

EarthJustice.org Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico, realization that so little is known about a spill in the Arctic led to a pause May 27, 2010 Washington, DC — The following statement is from Trip Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice, regarding today’s announcement by Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to pause plans by the Shell Oil Company [...]

May 27 2010


Rare Obama News Conference on the Gulf Crisis

President Obama speaks of a moratorium on offshore oil drilling permits and the battle to plug the oil leak.

May 26 2010


On Our Radar: Talk of 'Shortcuts' on the Rig

A Transocean employee tells Coast Guard investigators that BP took "shortcuts" that may have contributed to the well blowout.

May 25 2010


7 Seized in Anti-Drilling Protest

Seven members of Greenpeace face charges after a protest that involved boarding an offshore drilling support ship and painting anti-drilling slogans on the side.

Transocean Chief's Bollywood Safety Dance

An online publication from Transocean provides one of the few public glimpses into happier times into the offshore oil driller at the center of the Deepwater Horizon accident.

May 08 2010


Time Out on Arctic Offshore Oil Drilling Needed

EarthJustice.org Conservation and Alaska Native groups head to federal court in legal challenge to Shell Oil plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean this July May 6, 2010 Portland, OR — Thirteen Alaska Native and conservation groups represented by Earthjustice are heading to federal court today to argue a legal challenge against the federal government’s October and December [...]
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