Just what the Gulf of Mexico needs: another oil well

Oil from BP's blown-out Deepwater Horizon well continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico and will do so until August at the earliest. In response, the Obama administration extended a moratorium on deepwater drilling for six months last week. However, the president also "quietly allowed a three-week-old ban on drilling in shallow water to expire" last week (hat tip Open Left). As a result,

Federal regulators approved Wednesday the first new Gulf of Mexico oil well since President Barack Obama lifted a brief ban on drilling in shallow water, even while deepwater projects remain frozen after the massive BP spill.

The Minerals Management Service granted a new drilling permit sought by Bandon Oil and Gas for a site about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana and 115 feet below the ocean's surface. It's south of Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge and Game Preserve, far to the west of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that triggered the BP spill.

Chris Bowers put it mildly when he described the Obama administration's action here as "difficult to fathom." The president gave a speech on the economy today and talked about investing in alternative energy, but like all my parenting books say, actions speak louder than words. The greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, and BP doesn't know how to stop it, but it's business as usual at the Minerals Management Service. Nor is today's permit approval an isolated case:

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.

Words fail me, so you'll have to share your thoughts in this thread.

UPDATE: In 1979 it took nine months to stop oil gushing from a shallow well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tags: offshore drilling, Barack Obama, oil spill, Environment, Energy, Oil (all tags)



They really don't seem to get it

That's the worst part of this.  I mean, it isn't realistic to think that we're going to stop drilling for oil in the Gulf, but allowing this to happen at this point in time shows a complete lack of understanding of the feelings people have about the spill.  Talking about climate change and better "blowout preventers" isn't going to cut it.  The narrative is there, Obama has to capture it: stop the leak, set a moratorium on drilling, dedicate political capital to returning government agencies to some semblence of functionality, and remind people that government bureaucracy can work the way it is intended.

by the mollusk 2010-06-02 05:06PM | 0 recs

I agree that there has been way too much stumbling on this issue for my comfort. I don't believe his heart isn't in the right place -- I just get the feeling his heart isn't in it, period. It really reinforces the meme that there is too wide a gulf (no pun intended) between actions and words in this Administration.

I will restrict my criticism to the President, but I've noticed that many of our other leaders in the party have been way too disengaged as well. The narrative is there. As you said: capture it.

Contrast this to the resurrection of HCR. The President had Rahm whispering in his ear all winter, telling him to let reform die, but he wouldn't listen. He marched in to the Republican congressional retreat and schooled them, waited for Wellpoint to do what Insurance companies do best, and then put the GOP over a barrel at the summit. We didn't get everything we wanted, but we got HCR.

We know he has it in him.

I think part of the problem is, offshore drilling is still (regrettably) popular. Note: the FDL link is claiming the contrary, but confuses a decrease in support (which has occurred) with support (which is still too high for my comfort). It's FDL, after all. We can't expect too much from them.

My observation? The BP station on the corner is as busy as ever, and gas is $2.85 a gallon.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-06-02 08:17PM | 1 recs
A little understanding

Its easy to cast all the blame on BP here but an understanding of facts is necessary. It is US Policy that forced BP (and others) to drill in deep water. Thats a mistake. why because, BP has shown that they were not prepared to deal with a disaster of this magnitude in deep water. On land or shallow water, this problem would have been mitigated by now. Both the US Government and BP are to blame. Look at whats going on in Alaska. We have vast oil reserves that the US Government is preventing Alaska from drilling to in defiance of its own Policies? Why, simple politics. We dont need to drill in deep water if we would take advantage of what we already have.You want to find blame, sure BP screwed up in that they werent prepared, but the US Government put policies in place that dont make any sense. To make matters worse, the administrations reaction has been impotent at best. If this were GW, we would all be screaming for his head, and rightly so. This is just another example of  Obama's week kneed incompetence and impotence as a leader. When Paul Begala is agreeing with Governor Jindal on the administrations inability to do what is right, ya know you have a problem. Say what you want but, the economy, unemployment, the oil spill are all going to doom Obama in 2012.




by BuckeyeBlogger 2010-06-02 06:09PM | 0 recs
A little misunderstanding

We can always count on you to tow Matt Drudge's line, can't we?

Because of the big bad government, the poor oil companies were forced (forced, I tell you) to cut corners, break the law, and engage in risky behavior that led to the death of 11 people and the worst oil spill in U.S. History.

You know what caused the oil spill? B.P.
You know what else caused the oil spill? A 30 year war waged on government by you and your Republican kind.

If someone builds you a house not to code and it falls down and hurts you, you don't turn around and blame the city building code department, do you? I guess you do, if you're a Republican. No, you blame the builder who broke the law, which in this case, was B.P. And news yesterday was that Attny. Gen. Holder is opening an investigation into whether B.P. broke the law criminally or civilly.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-06-02 08:04PM | 2 recs
Oh yeah right

BP DIDN'T REALLY WANNA drill in deep water.

Whatever, you Fox News loons are going to destroy this country. It'll be a much better place after you do and we can rebuild it on your apologies.

by DTOzone 2010-06-03 12:04AM | 1 recs
do two week knees make a fortnight knee?

I partially agree with what you're saying.  But only in the sense that the government agency meant to regulate these activities fell down on the job completely. 

As far as "forcing" BP to drill in deep water, I have no idea what you're talking about.  I've spent time at sea along the Gulf Coast and I can tell you that there is a veritable maze of oil and gas rigs beginning basically at the water's edge and extending far out to sea.  In Alabama, coastal property owners receive mineral rights because gas rigs are drilling literally under the coast.  At night, the lights of scores of oil and gas rigs are easily visible from the shore.  I can't tell you how many blue helmets with the label "Roustabout" I've seen along the beaches in Alabama.  I don't get this notion that we've cornered energy companies in anyway whatsoever.

It's not realistic to think any of this is going to change.  What needs to change is the regulatory environment and the understanding that something like this could happen a hundred times over.

by the mollusk 2010-06-03 10:22AM | 0 recs
RE: A little understanding

Wow, from Sarah Palin's lips to your ears.  Amazing.

We've discussed previously your inability to apply critical thought processes to these talking points you hear.  I've given up on trying to change that about you.  Right, if we opened up ANWR then no one would be interested in deepwater drilling, good point dude.

by Steve M 2010-06-03 04:42PM | 1 recs
Half the country thinks like Buckeye

which is why we're in the situation we're in today.

by DTOzone 2010-06-04 12:54AM | 0 recs
RE: Just what the Gulf of Mexico needs: another oil well

First off, Buckeye, you really are either a idiot or a troll of the worst sort.  Since we forced all these companies that make obscene profits todrill in deep water, we should shoulder the blame.  And oh yeah, lets go F-up Alaska too, while we are at it, because, you know, nothing bad ever happens above water.  Pest, begone!


As for the drilling, who here does not see the energy war being waged in the shadows right now?  Why are we storing such massive amounts of oil in the reserves when there is lower demand?  Why not put in a moratorium and use the reserve to slowly keep up with demand...because everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is looking for and trying to lock in the rights to what is left out there.  I think the rumors of hitting peak oil may be premature, but I think we may have hit and passed peak "easy to get at a cheap cost" oil.  Obama is, is, is allowing shallow water drilling to keep on so that oil prices stay stable and the economy does not take a dive. 

No large group of well-funded elites in the USA is ready to fall on their swords (culturally) while leading us from oil to renewables.  No one has the industrial guts to shift radically right now...the economy is all based on a big game of chicken right now, not supply/demand or even priciples of the free-market.  SO the few people with some sanity left are allowing a unpalatable choice to go forward. 

Now, if you are willing to watch some level of 60's style rioting and a decade of human suffering in your backyard, then let's cut off the wells.

by Hammer1001 2010-06-02 06:21PM | 0 recs
you just don't get the joke

The president gave a speech...

Stop right there.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-06-02 08:22PM | 0 recs
Oil drilling a problem, but the bigger problem is lack of enforcement

Seriously, I am beginning to mistrust senators. Maybe governors do make for better presidential candidates. GW was a moron but at least he was able to get done some of his priorities however misplaced they were. I just dont trust our senate.

Anyway, Exxon spill wasnt because of drilling. THat was a tanker. People are missing the point again. WHAT MATTERS IS ACCOUNTABILITY. There were existing regulations and policies that BP violated. There were mistakes made by MMS. Reorganizing or adding more regulations is good, but will not change a thing UNLESS there is actual accountability leading to enforcement of such policies. Just one firing so far???? Obama needs to unleash his bad side and put the fear of life into those regulators. Obama needs to use this incident , not just to stop offshore drilling, but to pass laws reducing conflict of interest. BUT DOES HE HAVE THE COURAGE? Or the WILL??? I don't think he does. He is a freaking senator at heart. Comfortable with compromise past the point of common sense.


by Pravin 2010-06-03 12:38AM | 1 recs
RE: Oil drilling a problem, but the bigger problem is lack of enforcement

I think Salazar needs to go, but this isn't the time to do it.  I'm not willing to write Obama off yet.  Honestly, I don't see what throwing a hissy fit in front of a microphone accomplishes.  To me, the best strategy is to focus on stopping the leak and cleaning up right now.  Once it is over, use the moment to move public opinion on the importance of government regulation.  To Obama's credit, he's the only Democratic Presidential nominee or President that I can remember speaking favorably about the role of government in our lives.  This is a prime example of that.  You even have these faux-libertarians now saying that Obama should be doing more.  There is an important narrative here that the Democrats jettisoned a long time ago.

by the mollusk 2010-06-03 10:27AM | 0 recs
RE: Oil drilling a problem, but the bigger problem is lack of enforcement

A hissy fit is not an apt description for what i want obama to throw. I want him to be a proxy for the people's sense of outrage at how MMS and other government arms failed them. You neeed the people on your side to get political capital to achieve things. Obama is not doing a good job of that. This is where appearances matter.

Also, firing Salazar may not be the best thign right now. But what about news that people WILL be fired and follow through on that a few months from now? People need to know that government is accountable. In one plus year of Obama's administration, despite the discovery of many mistakes in other sectors, how many high profile firings have we seen? Very little. Also what is our party doing to reduce conflict of interest? Putting up a token bill is not good enough. They need to press hard until only the Republicans emerge as the bad guys in this.

by Pravin 2010-06-03 04:37PM | 0 recs


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