MMS deepwater lease sales to BP and others continue lax oversight
The Minerals Management Service (MMS) continues to approve new leases after the Deepwater Horizon explosion that give British Petroleum and other companies the right to drill even more deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico under the same inadequate oversight that led to the current oil spill, according to a new legal challenge filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center and Defenders of Wildlife. The groups say current policies create an incentive to allow drilling even in the face of evident risks because once a lease is issued by MMS, the U.S. government is obligated to pay the lessee either the fair market value of the lease or the amount spent to obtain the bid plus costs and interest if the government cancels the lease or refuses to allow drilling. MMS approved new leases for deepwater tracts as recently as June 10 under the same lax oversight complicit in the current Gulf spill. More details are in the news release.