Sierra Club has this press news release alert below about the new offshore drilling project just approved by MMS:
Today, the [MMS] approved a new drilling permit for an offshore well in the Gulf of Mexico. Last week, the president extended his ban on deepwater drilling for an additional 6 months, but lifted the ban on shallow water drilling, allowing this project to move forward.
In fact, shallow water drilling is just as risky as deep water drilling. In 1979, we saw a disaster very similar to the BP catastrophe from Ixtoc 1, a shallow well in the Gulf. They used all the same techniques to try to stop that gusher, and it took them nine months to finally do it. By that time, an estimated 138 million gallons had spilled.
The President's new moratorium on offshore drilling is supposed to be for six months, requires a thirty-day safety review by Interior Secretary Salazar, and but it doesn't extend to offshore drilling in shallow water.
Here's the history of the Ixtoc I spill. It was an exploratory well drilled about 62 miles off the coast of Ciudad del Carmen, in waters about 160 feet deep. It took Pemex nearly ten months to stop the oil spill. You can read more about the history of the Ixtoc I spill here, including the facts that nearly all the same measures (Top Kill, Junk Shot, etc) were used in trying to stop the spill.
This environmental disaster was in 160 feet of water. And now, this new offshore drilling project by Bandon Oil and Gas was granted today by MMS, and it will take place in 115 feet of water, about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana. This permit was requested by Bandon just after Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank. Here are the reactions of environmental advocates to this new offshore drilling project:
"I'm outraged," said Kieran Suckling, executive director for the Tucson, Ariz.,-based Center for Biological Diversity, after a reporter told him of the new permit. "How is it that shallow water drilling suddenly became safe again?"
Suckling said the administration was misleading the public by quietly resuming work in shallow waters while acting as if it was taking a tough look at deepwater work.
It doesn't make sense to allow shallow water drilling projects to continue while conducting an environmental safety review, and claiming that it's needed to stop deepwater drilling projects for six months. All drilling projects, whether shallow water or in deep water, should be put on hold. I'd flip this statement by Interior Secretary Salazarto include shallow water drilling projects as well.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a news release Sunday that the extended moratorium on deepwater drilling was needed to provide time to implement new safety requirements.
"With the BP oil spill still growing in the Gulf, and investigations and reviews still under way, a six month pause in drilling is needed, appropriate, and prudent," Salazar said. He said the term "deepwater" referred to drilling at depths of 500 feet or greater.
It indeed would be appropriate and prudent to put a six-month pause in drilling to all offshore drilling projects. If you want to take action on this issue below, you can do so by signing the petition by Sierra Club here:
UPDATE: You know what's really fucked up? Reading that Admiral Thad Allen, the Incident Commander (and the one that's supposed to hold BP accountable), is having dinner with BP CEO Hayward:
James Carville walked into one of his favorite New Orleans eateries, Eleven 79, Tuesday night — and was stunned to find BP CEO Tony Hayward and Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the two men tasked with stopping the Gulf spill, eating dinner together.