Here we go again x3: Oil Spills 3, New Drilling Permits 4

I just got a tweet from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).  This comes days after complaints that the government isn’t approving Gulf drilling permits quick enough. I should also mention that the Obama Administration has approved the fourth deep-water drilling permit since the BP oil gusher approximately one year ago. So, here’s information from the NWF where they are tracking THREE separate incidents in the Gulf right now.

At this point, we’re following what are likely three different incidents in the Gulf:

  • Oil coming ashore west of the mouth of the Mississippi River near Grand Isle
  • Reports of possible oil east of the mouth of the Mississippi in Chandeleur Sound
  • A large amount of sediment mixed with a small amount of oil at the mouth of the Mississippi

The Times Picayune reports on the first oil occurring near beleaguered Grand Isle, LA and a Houston company has accepted responsibility for that one. TP also reports on the second oil sighting near the Chandeleur islands.  That’s a picture of it at the top of the thread.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Leeman said the Coast Guard had received no reports of oil-like material east of the river, but a group of environmentalists, engineers and scientists flew over Chandeleur Sound on Monday and Tuesday, and shared photographs and detailed descriptions with The Times-Picayune showing black, streaky plumes over a 20-mile stretch from just east of Quarantine Bay to just west of the shoal remains of Curlew Island.

While the oil industry whines it’s not getting to drill quickly enough, it’s becoming evident that their record of maintaining and inspecting existing rigs is pretty pathetic.  Also, we’ve seen no push by the administration or any one in Congress to implement the recommendations of  the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Furthermore, BP is not living up to its obligations to deal with its damage to the wetlands done by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Louisiana’s congressional delegation has asked BP for $15 million to restore oyster beds and fisheries.  Louisiana is ponying up $12 million of state funds to begin some kind of effort. BP is still supposedly cleaning up the damage still but has no projects active to restore wetlands.

BP set up the GCRO to deal with the spill. On Tuesday, the GCRO opened up its New Orleans office, in an effort to show they are still working on the oil spill.

“BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization is really centered on four things,” Utsler said. “The first and foremost is continuing the completion of this response.”

Dan Favre is with the environmental advocacy “Gulf Restoration Network.” The group has a similar name to BP’s GCRO, but with a totally different take on the response.

“Unfortunately, the response is clearly lacking,” Favre said. “We’re coming up on the one-year memorial mark of the beginning of BP’s disaster here in the Gulf. And so it’s just crazy that there hasn’t been any action to actually start to repair the damage that’s been done.”

That is true, in part. BP set aside hundreds of millions of dollars for their restoration organization, but a year after the spill, only one of their restoration projects is so far underway.

“One of those is already in progress in Mississippi, in terms of wetland restoration,” Utsler said. “Other projects are in discussion in readiness for being approved and agreed to with NRDA [Natural Resource Damage Assessment] trustees, the states and ourselves to conduct.”

However, none of those projects is currently underway in Louisiana — arguably the state hardest hit by the spill. Utsler said they are working on a list of projects, with pending approval. Yet, some environmental groups believe the federal government needs to step in to move the restoration along.

“I don’t think we can leave it to BP to do it on their own accord,” Favre said. “I want to see Congress and the administration actually make BP pay for Gulf ecosystem restoration, by levying the maximum fines and penalties under the Clean Water Act and then allocating those resources directly to environmental restoration in the Gulf.”

It seems somewhat premature to allow these businesses continued access to drilling in the Gulf when they obviously haven’t maintained the rigs, inspected rigs for problems, and shown signs of good faith following damage to the ecosystem and people living in the Gulf.  I think the administration should ask for implementation of the recommendations before allowing any more new permits.  We also need to look for patterns of abuse so that operators with bad records are not allowed new permits.  That’s just one shrimp lover’s opinion. But then, there’s Michelle Bachmann that wants to do away with the EPA and she’s a congress critter.  Newt Gingrich–oil industry suck-up extraordinaire wants that too. I just want my seafood and vacations in warm Gulf Waters to be safe again.

Oh, and honk if you’ve seen or read any of this on MSM from the village.