After scrapping stricter smog limit, President Barack Obama continues to throw the environment under the bus.
by Terry Macalister
US regulator declines to enforce ‘death penalty’ on oil company despite environmentalists’ fury
The Obama administration has infuriated environmentalists by giving BP the green light to bid for new drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico.
The move – seen as a major step in the company’s political rehabilitation as an offshore driller following the Deepwater Horizon accident – was revealed by the head of the US safety regulator after a congressional hearing in Washington.
BP declined to comment, but Friends of the Earth said it was appalled. “Governments should be administering the death penalty to all deepwater drilling rather than waiting for yet more devastating incidents like the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico or in any other part of the world,” argued Craig Bennett, director of policy and campaigns at the environmental group.
“It is not just BP operations that are deeply flawed,” he added. “There is not a single oil company that can say with a high degree of confidence that it can drill safely and how it will clear up if something goes wrong. It is clear in the context of climate change we need to develop new clean technologies, not hunt for fossil fuels in ever more remote and hard-to-reach areas.”
by Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson
In May, the environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben – pondering a simmering energy issue – asked a NASA scientist to calculate what it would mean for the Earth’s climate if Canada extracted all of the petroleum in its rich Alberta oil sands region.
The answer to McKibben’s query came a month later: it would push atmospheric carbon concentrations so high that humans would be unable to avert a climate disaster. “It is essentially game over,” wrote James E. Hansen, who heads NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is one of the nation’s leading voices against fossil fuel energy.
“This project represents a collision of multiple national interests and multiple political interests,” said P.J. Crowley, who served as spokesman for the State Department during part of the review process. “Energy security and environment normally go together, but in this case they are somewhat at odds. All have come together to make this a bigger deal than it might have appeared at first blush.”
Charles K. Ebinger, a senior fellow for energy at the Brookings Institution, said the issue has “become a test case for the Democrats” with two factions within the Obama camp asking the same question: “Is he with us or against us?”
“I do think it has become a defining political issue,” Ebinger said. “I don’t think he’s going to win any friends whichever way he goes.”