VERY Encouraging News: Obama panel: Review drill ban Baton Rouge, LA
The President’s panel is asking for a review of the moratorium and a report to be completed in time for its next meeting on August 25th.
This is very encouraging.
I admit to having had a slight bit of discomfort with the make-up of this panel, which seems to comprise people who would be excellent for reviewing mitigation and clean-up sorts of activities, but which is sorely lacking in anyone familiar with the actual process of drilling and would be hard-pressed, IMO, to be able to study and make recommendations regarding operations and safety. I had thought it would be preferable for there to be two panels to study these two very different issues:
Drilling operations and safety; and environmental issues surrounding clean-up of spills.
So this move is quite unexpected, at least for me, and I find it very encouraging.
I’ve quoted the whole story below, since it’s at our local newspaper’s website, and they tend to “archive” articles after a short period (making them unavailable for viewing without paying a fee).
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s own commission investigating the Deepwater Horizon explosion is asking for an independent analysis over whether the administration’s drilling moratorium is an adequate way to ensure rig safety.
The executive director of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, Richard Lazarus, wrote to the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank to do a study on the matter.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar imposed the moratorium in May, saying no exploratory drilling should take place until assurances can be made that it is done safely.
The April 20 oil rig explosion killed 11 workers and resulted in oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.
Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff declined to comment on the letter.
She said she had not seen the letter.
Lazarus said in the commission’s first hearing, several people testifying questioned the moratorium and its impact on the Gulf economy.
“Although the lawfulness of the administration’s decision to issue a moratorium falls outside the president’s charge to the commission, the wisdom of using a moratorium as a method for preventing further spills in the immediate aftermath of a spill are factors for the commission to consider in making recommendations in the future,” Lazarus wrote in a letter to the center.
A federal judge and an appeals panel both struck down the moratorium as arbitrary.
Since then, Salazar created a new moratorium based on whether a piece of equipment suspected as being a key cause of the explosion is safe on the rigs.
The commission’s report is due Jan. 12. Lazarus is asking the policy center, created in 2007 by former senators, to give them a report before the next commission hearing Aug. 25.
The commission wants to know the risk of additional leaks, absent a moratorium, Lazarus said.
“Such a review would, we assume, include the possibility that some individual drilling sites and rigs might, upon individualized review, be deemed sufficiently safe to allow for the resumption of drilling even before the moratorium expires,” Lazarus wrote.
Noting the policy center has produced a series of outstanding reports on national energy policy, Lazarus said the study should include whether the government is willing to lift the moratorium in whole or in part for individual drilling sites and rigs before the moratorium period formally ends.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who has introduced legislation to repeal the moratorium, said Thursday that he was encouraged by the commission’s effort to review the moratorium.
“The president’s moratorium is arbitrary and is not even helpful for preventing future spills,” Vitter said in a statement.
“President Obama needs to help the thousands of Louisianians and others who are out of work by lifting the moratorium now,” he said.