New Drilling Moratorium: A Needed Step to Mitigate a Risky Industry

Drilling safety is not a BP problem, it is an industry problem- Ken Salazar and the Department of the Interior agree.

A Louisiana federal Judge threw out the first ban on offshore drilling last week, but citing concerns over industry-wide use of the same blowout preventers that failed BP, the Interior Department issued a new moratorium Monday.

The extreme engineering and technical lengths companies go to extract oil from miles underwater highlights the severity of our oil addiction- and we can take steps to end it today. But establishing new, rigorous standards for drilling safely in complex and dangerous situations needs to be priority number one for the drilling industry and those who regulate it.

BP is one of the richest, most technologically advanced companies in the world- and 13 weeks after the spill, oil continues to gush nearly uninhibited from the sea floor. Can we assume that any other company would do a better job?

The reality is, we can not. The American Petroleum institute has spent millions in public relations to save their image while throwing BP under the bus, but a government review of spill response documents of all five major drilling companies found nothing but boiler-plate, cookie cutter plans- in some cases using the exact same words.

Like BP, three other companies include references to protecting walruses, which have not called the Gulf of Mexico home for 3 million years.

Two other plans are such dead ringers for BP’s that they list a phone number for the same long-dead expert.

ExxonMobil’s response report has 40 pages on its media response strategy, yet its plans for resources protection is only 5 pages long and its plan for oil removal is just 9 pages long. Clearly they are more concerned with the safety of their brand than the safety of their equipment.

Every response plan document claims the companies can handle between 150,000 and 250,000 barrels per day. The BP spill is currently leaking between 11,000 to 25,000 barrels per day- with almost no ability to contain it.

What this disaster has demonstrated more than anything is that these companies cannot be taken at their word- not a single number BP has released relating to the scope of the disaster or its response capabilities has held up to facts.

The offshore drilling industry needs to seriously raise the bar on integrity and transparency, and forcing a moratorium until this occurs is mandatory to holding these companies accountable.

Our tolerance for risk needs to be at an all-time low as we struggle to contain this disaster, and that means an end to risky deepwater drilling until new safety controls are demonstrably in place.

Source: Sierra Club



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2 responses to “New Drilling Moratorium: A Needed Step to Mitigate a Risky Industry

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