Obama as atrocious on the environment as Bush was

Rolling Stone does it again with this super (depressing) article on how the Bush and Obama administrations allowed BP to destroy the Gulf of Mexico. Most depressing is how completely seamless the Bush-to-Obama transition went. Absolutely nothing changed in terms of protecting the environment.

A few highlowlights:

“Employees describe being in [The Department of the] Interior – not just MMS, but the other agencies – as the third Bush term,” says Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which represents federal whistle-blowers. “They’re working for the same managers who are implementing the same policies. Why would you expect a different result?”

The tale of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is, at its core, the tale of two blowout preventers: one mechanical, one regulatory. The regulatory blowout preventer failed long before BP ever started to drill – precisely because Salazar kept in place the crooked environmental guidelines the Bush administration implemented to favor the oil industry.

Scientists like Steiner had urgently tried to alert Obama to the depth of the rot at MMS. “I talked to the transition team,” Steiner says. “I told them that MMS was a disaster and needed to be seriously reformed.” A top-to-bottom restructuring of MMS didn’t require anything more than Ken Salazar’s will: The agency only exists by order of the Interior secretary.

Salazar did not even ensure that MMS had a written manual – required under Interior’s own rules – for complying with environmental laws.

On April 6th of last year, less than a month after BP submitted its application, MMS gave the oil giant the go-ahead to drill in the Gulf without a comprehensive environmental review. The one-page approval put no restrictions on BP, issuing only a mild suggestion that would prove prescient: “Exercise caution while drilling due to indications of shallow gas.” BP is the last oil company on Earth that Salazar and MMS should have allowed to regulate itself. The firm is implicated in each of the worst oil disasters in American history, dating back to the Exxon Valdez in 1989. …In March 2006, BP was responsible for an Alaska pipeline rupture that spilled more than 250,000 gallons of crude into Prudhoe Bay… In 2005, 15 workers were killed and 170 injured after a tower filled with gasoline exploded at a BP refinery in Texas. Investigators found that the company had flouted its own safety procedures and illegally shut off a warning system before the blast.

Posted by James on Friday, June 11, 2010