May 11, 2011

One year after - Lessons ignored

Last week, one year and two weeks after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig took the lives of 11 people and perpetuated the worst environmental disaster in US history, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives began voting on a trio of bills designed to repeat the catastrophe:

HR 1230: Reopening risky offshore drilling. The first of the "Oil Above All" bills, HR 1230, passed the House by a vote of 266-149. If enacted into law, the bill would force the Administration to offer lease sales in the Gulf and off Virginia that were canceled in the wake of the BP disaster, after the administration determined safety standards and environmental impact assessments were in serious need of reform.
HR 1229: Accelerating drilling permits. The bill would force the Secretary of Interior to approve or deny all new applications for drilling permits under an existing exploration plan within 30 days (with the possibility of two 15-day extensions). These applications are for dangerous and complicated work and often take oil companies years to compile — the bill would impose rushed, arbitrary permitting deadlines, as well as prevent the enforcement of key public interest and environmental laws. HR 1229 is scheduled for a vote next week.
HR 1231: Opening everywhere to offshore drilling. This legislation would force sweeping new drilling in sensitive areas — namely the entire Atlantic coast, Southern California coast, the Arctic Ocean and Alaska's Bristol Bay.
All this flies in the face of recommendations of the President's National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, which stated unequivocally in its report that laws for spill prevention and response need to be improved before drilling is expanded. 

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