Skip to main content

Obama administration

Here's the latest on the Obama administration's approach to oil drilling in the Arctic seas.

In July, a court agreed with Earthjustice lawyers that a hastily approved federal oil development plan for the Chukchi Sea is illegal. The court said the Interior Department simply ignored gaps in scientific data about the natural areas and wildlife about to be disturbed by drilling rigs without making any attempt to determine whether the missing information might be important or could be obtained from other sources.

Interior and its Minerals Management Service (renamed to escape the stigma of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and now called the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement) readily admit that they don't know much about almost every species of sea bird, migratory water fowl, seals and whales, not to mention polar bears, that would be affected by oil and gas development in the Chukchi.

Rather than take the hint, however, Interior now takes the position that oil drilling should go forward anyway because they would have approved it regardless of the scientific data. Interior Sec. Salazar's recent directive that the department's decisions be based on the best science available, rather than political pressure, seems not to have reached BOEMRE's Alaska office. We'll help get the word to them.
 

Today, six months from the day the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded 42 miles off the Louisiana shore, much is still unknown about the effects of the nation's biggest oil spill, which gushed for 95 continuous days and spilled nearly 200 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. (See a visual timeline of the oil spill.)

Only days before BP's oil well blew in the Gulf of Mexico, Interior Sec. Ken Salazar was on the Gulf Coast wearing a 10-gallon cowboy hat and preaching the good news about oil drilling in the Gulf. Soon after his sermon, Salazar was eating those words, hat in hand, as millions of gallons of oil flooded coastal waters.

Today, we learned that West Virginia's Governor, Gov. Joe Manchin, is suing the EPA for its policies to strengthen watch over the state's biggest polluter, the coal mining industry and to ensure that mining does not put the people of the state and their water supplies directly in harm's way, compeletely devalue their property and turn their communities into wrecking zones for coal corporations.

<Update:  AP reports that Florida State University professor Ian MacDonald "is gratified" by today's oil spill commission report. He has been at odds with government estimates of oil spilled and had this to say to AP:

From the beginning, there was "a contradiction between discoveries and concerns by academic scientists and statements by NOAA," MacDonald said in an interview with the AP at the oil spill conference.

West Virginia is synonymous with coal mining, but a new study suggests the Mountain State is also a prime location for geothermal energy production.

A subsurface map produced by Southern Methodist University with funding from the philanthropic arm of search engine giant Google, found a large swath of geothermal hot spots in the eastern portion of the state that could be tapped to produce energy for Atlantic Seaboard communities.

Pages

About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.