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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/14/10

Minerals Management Services Gave Permission for BP to Drill Without Getting Required Permits

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This just in; "The federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without getting required permits from another agency that assesses threats to endangered species-and despite strong warnings from that agency about the impact the drilling was likely to have on the gulf."[1]

The Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded and sunk last month and continues to pour thousands of barrels of oil into the gulf was one of many drilling operations that were approved by M.M.S. without securing the required permits. "The"M.M.S., also routinely overruled its staff biologists and engineers who raised concerns about the safety and environmental impact of certain drilling proposals in the gulf and in Alaska, according to a half- dozen current and former agency scientists. Those scientists said they were regularly pressured by agency officials to change the findings of their internal studies if they predicted that an accident was likely to occur or if wildlife might be harmed."[2]

Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for M.M.S. responding to the accusations that agency scientists were being silenced said," Under the previous administration, there was a pattern of suppressing science in decisions, and we're working very hard to change the culture and empower scientists in the Department of Interior."[3]

So it was Bush and his minions who are to blame for the latest gulf disaster? Well"not so fast; was it not on the present administration's watch that the Deepwater Horizon explosion occurred? If officials of the Obama administration became aware that one of its agencies (M.M.S.) has functioned "illegally" (approving drilling without securing the required permits) and that pressuring to alter scientific findings was routinely done (previously by the Bush mob) so those findings wouldn't hold up the start of drilling operations, isn't it your responsibility to immediately order the necessary changes at the time you become aware of the improper and illegal procedures utilized by the previous administration?

Sure Bush and his crowd acted improperly and aggressively and pressed for expediency in drilling to favor the oil interests while dismissing scientific and environmental findings. But they're no longer in charge. Shifting the blame by saying "we're working very hard to change the culture and empower scientists" doesn't cut it when you have the knowledge and the power to change it. That didn't happen!

Sadly, even if the "culture" of M.M.S. had changed it probably wouldn't have prevented the current disaster from happening in the gulf. After all the "Deepwater Horizon" was approved of and operating before the Obama administration took office.

But considering the present environmental disaster now occurring in the gulf is still out of control, wouldn't it be prudent to order a thorough structural inspection of all other existing off-shore drilling operations in the gulf? Is that too much to ask?

[1] "U.S. Said to Allow Drilling Without Needed Permits", by Ian Urbina, "The New York Times, May 13, 2010.

[2] See footnote #1

[3] See footnote #1

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