By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said to reporters outside of BP’s Houston offices, “I am angry and I am frustrated that BP has been unable to stop this well from leaking and to stop the pollution from spreading ... We are 33 days into this effort, and deadline after deadline has been missed.”
Angry and frustrated that BP has missed “deadline after deadline”? Yes. Surprised? No. That’s because there isn’t much pressure from the administration to fix the situation. Sure, Secretary Salazar has been saying that BP really, really, really needs to fix this. And sure, President Obama announced on May 14 that he was imposing a moratorium on drilling new wells and granting environmental waivers. But since then, take a look at what the administration has actually been doing, according to today’s New York Times.
Since the April 20 explosion on the rig in the gulf, the administration has granted at least 19 environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits similar to projects like the Deepwater Horizon rig. Just since the president’s so-called “moratorium” was imposed, at least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five controversial environmental waivers have been granted. So the administration’s actions are very different from its words.
Here’s the clincher: At least six of the drilling projects that have been given waivers since the leak began are for waters that are much deeper than this one. Some of the wells are classified as “ultra” deep water--in fact, four of them are deeper than 9,100 feet, the Times reports. No wonder BP isn’t getting the message to pick up the pace on stopping the leak. They’re getting a different message: Pick up the pace on drilling more deep-water wells. And pay no attention to that silly “moratorium.”
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against offshore drilling, done right. Most of us agree that once we get this leak plugged, we should make sure it doesn’t happen again--and then move on with a forward-looking plan for developing domestic sources of energy.
What I’m opposed to is saying one thing and doing another. If a Republican had declared a moratorium and then continued to grant waivers for even deeper wells--while the live-streaming video of thousands of barrels of leaking oil, and “optics” of oil-soaked birds and wetlands continued for over a month--the screams from the left would be deafening. When it comes to Democrats and the environment, it’s different. There’s a huge double-standard going on here.