With BP’s oil still in the Gulf, the Obama administration’s plan to lift the deep-water drilling moratorium once again puts the region at risk. The clean up and damage mitigation mission is not even close to accomplished. The Gulf and our communities have a long road to recovery from the BP disaster. Local fishermen are still out of work, wildlife impacts have not yet even been fully assessed, and long-term support is needed to ensure ecological and economic recovery. We certainly can’t afford another oil catastrophe.
While new rules to increase safety of drilling operations are welcomed, renaming a federal agency and creating a blueprint for safer drilling are not enough to ensure that the industry will actually follow the rules. How can the public be assured that federal regulators won’t again sign off on a plan that includes saving the Gulf walrus?
To truly safeguard oil and gas development in the Gulf of Mexico, local, impacted communities must have a meaningful voice in the process. In Alaska, this was done through creating a Regional Citizen’s Advisory Council, and the Gulf deserves the same.
A Gulf of Mexico Regional Citizen’s Advisory Council can police the cozy relationship between the industry and regulators to ensure rules are followed and contingency plans are in place. In light of the abysmal response, containment, and clean up we have observed and continue to observe in the aftermath of the BP disaster, it’s clear that these new rules must contain real blowout response plans before any new drilling is permitted.