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BP Got NEPA Exemption for Gulf drilling

This Washington Post story really is disgusting – U.S. exempted BP’s Gulf of Mexico drilling from environmental impact study.

The Interior Department exempted BP’s calamitous Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact analysis last year, according to government documents, after three reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely.

The decision by the department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) to give BP’s lease at Deepwater Horizon a “categorical exclusion” from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on April 6, 2009 — and BP’s lobbying efforts just 11 days before the explosion to expand those exemptions — show that neither federal regulators nor the company anticipated an accident of the scale of the one unfolding in the gulf. …

Kiern Suckling, executive director of the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, said the federal waiver “put BP entirely in control” of the way it conducted its drilling.

Agency a ‘rubber stamp’

“The agency’s oversight role has devolved to little more than rubber-stamping British Petroleum’s self-serving drilling plans,” Suckling said.

BP has lobbied the White House Council on Environmental Quality — which provides NEPA guidance for all federal agencies– to provide categorical exemptions more often. In an April 9 letter, BP America’s senior federal affairs director, Margaret D. Laney, wrote to the council that such exemptions should be used in situations where environmental damage is likely to be “minimal or non-existent.” An expansion in these waivers would help “avoid unnecessary paperwork and time delays,” she added.

Aha – gotta cut all that bureaucratic Red Tape paperwork and promote economic development!

But don’t think that the same thing is not happening right here in NJ. Governor Christie’s Executive Order #2 mandates it:

1. For immediate relief from regulatory burdens, State agencies shall:


c. Adopt rules for waivers which recognize that rules can be conflicting or unduly burdensome and shall adopt regulations that allow for waivers from the strict compliance with agency regulations

d. Employ the use of cost/benefit analyses, as well as scientific and economic research from other jurisdictions, including but not limited to the federal government when conducting an economic impact analysis on a proposed rule.

Making matters even more absurd, DEP Commissioner Martin has formed a secret hand picked “stakeholder” group to discuss such waivers and regulatory relief. Worse, environmental groups have not denounced him or the Governor for it and are instead PARTICIPATING and thereby giving this sham an air of legitimacy!

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