Agency to Review Oil Drilling Risks after Gulf Spill & Seek Public Input
The federal agency that oversees offshore drilling today announced it will revise the environmental analysis under which BP’s Deepwater Horizon operated and other oil drilling activities in the Gulf of Mexico continue, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center.
“All the prior assumptions and conclusions about the risks, impacts, and ability to control and respond to a deepwater oil spill were blown out with the BP oil well,” said Catherine Wannamaker, senior attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center. “After the harm and ongoing damage from the oil spill, the law requires a thorough environmental review of the risks and impacts that’s open to public input before risky deepwater drilling in the Gulf should resume.”
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Environment (formerly known as the Minerals Management Service or MMS) is required to complete a supplemental environmental impact statement assessing the risks of new deepwater wells in light of the information learned from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.
“The long-term effects of the oil spill on life in and around the Gulf is still being studied and uncovered, from coral at the bottom of the Gulf to blue crab, oysters, and fish caught and consumed by our families and communities,” added Wannamaker. “Until we know what these impacts are and how we prevent them from happening in the future, we shouldn’t be drilling in deepwater. The government must vigorously exercise its legal responsibility to protect our natural resources and communities.”
The National Environmental Policy Act requires that the review be open to public comment so the BOEMRE announced public hearings in three states that host a large oil industry presence—Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas—and set a public comment deadline for December 27, the Monday after the Christmas holiday. Prior to the December 27 deadline, public comments also may be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org as well as by regular mail per instructions published by the agency in today’s Federal Register.