Feds Approve 27 Drilling Projects in Gulf After BP Spill

This is from Center for Biological Diversity.  -Rick

Even as the
BP spill gushes millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the
agency tasked with overseeing offshore drilling is continuing to exempt
dangerous new drilling operations from environmental review. Since the
BP oil-rig explosion on April 20, an investigation has revealed that the
U.S. Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service has approved
27 new offshore drilling plans as of May 7 -- 26 of those under the same
environmental-review exemption used to approve the ill-fated Deepwater
Horizon project.  In fact, two of the exempted approvals went to BP,
based on the same false assertions about oil-rig safety and an
inconceivably alleged improbability of environmental damage.

This
is more bad news about the Mineral Management Service, but
unfortunately it gets worse.  Last week, the MMS became embroiled in
controversy when it was revealed that it had exempted BP's offshore
drilling plan from environmental review, and that it exempts hundreds
of dangerous offshore oil-drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico every
year, by using a loophole in the National Environmental Policy Act
meant only to apply to non-damaging activities like building an outhouse
or creating a hiking trail.

In
response to the review-exemption scandal, last Thursday Interior
Secretary Ken Salazar announced that he had banned approval of new
offshore oil-drilling permits -- but the next day, Interior acknowledged
that environmental exemptions and drilling plans have not been halted.
Salazar is still allowing those flawed drilling approvals to proceed,
only halting the issuance of a last technical check-off that doesn't
involve any environmental review.

Get
more from ABC News and see Center for Biological Diversity
Executive Director Kierán Suckling talk about it on Democracy Now!

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