Legal Petition Filed to Reform Policy That Allows Oil Drilling to Evade Environmental Review

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Miyoko Sakashita, (415) 658-5308,
miyoko@biologicaldiversity.org

Legal Petition Filed to Reform Policy That Allows Oil Drilling to Evade Environmental Review

WASHINGTON - The Center for Biological Diversity
today filed a legal
petition
with the White House and secretary of the interior formally

requesting a rescission of the policy that allowed BP’s exploration
drilling and
hundreds of other drilling plans to escape environmental review. The
petition
requires that the secretary formally respond to the request and explain
how
offshore drilling evaded the mandates of the National Environmental
Policy
Act.

“Two months
later, we have yet to see real reform of the flawed process that ushered
in this
horrific oil spill,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the
Center for
Biological Diversity. “It seems obvious to everyone, except perhaps
those who
are in charge, that the lax environmental oversight of Big Oil must
end.”

BP’s Deepwater Horizon
drilling plan was
approved in 2009 under the “categorical exclusion” policy, leading to
the April
20, 2010 explosion that caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
Despite the catastrophe, Secretary Salazar has continued to allow the
Minerals
Management Service to approve new drilling plans — all exempt from
environmental
review — after the explosion and even after the
moratorium.

The White
House’s Council on Environmental Quality is reviewing the Interior
Department’s
policy that exempts drilling plans in the Gulf of Mexico from
environmental
review. On June 17, 2010, the Council must complete its review.

“On the fast
track to drilling, the secretary had to make a finding each time he
approved a
drilling plan that no significant environmental impacts could occur,”
added
Sakashita. “In light of the BP oil spill, it is clear that exploratory
and
development drilling can, and does, result in significant impacts to the

environment and communities that depend on the Gulf’s coastal
resources.”

Today’s
petition seeks to eliminate the exemption for drilling policies and
replace it
with a policy that requires the Minerals Management Service to consider
the
environmental effects of each stage of offshore oil and gas development,

including the risk and impacts of a large oil spill. It would also allow
an
opportunity for public participation in the process.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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