Posted by | May 24, 2010 11:37 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Thomas Wellborn

Nineteen  environmental waivers have been granted by the US government for gulf drilling projects, in spite of a May 14th promise by President Obama that companies would no longer be given the luxury of bypassing environment reviews of their drilling procedures.  In addition to these waivers for mostly deepwater drilling initiatives, 17 drilling permits were also granted, according to the New York Times.

At least six of the drilling projects that have been given waivers in the past four weeks are for waters that are deeper — and therefore more difficult and dangerous — than where Deepwater Horizon was operating.  While that rig, which was drilling at a depth just shy of 5,000 feet, was classified as a deep-water operation, many of the wells in the six projects are classified as ‘ultra’ deep water, including four new wells at over 9,100 feet. In explaining why they were still granting new permits for certain types of drilling on existing wells, Department of the Interior officials said some of the procedures being allowed are necessary for the safety of the existing wellbore (a hole created for extracting oil from the ground).”

On April 20, 2010 an oil well blowout occurred on the Deepwater Horizon, a deepwater drilling rig owned and operated by British Petroleum (BP). The ensuing catastrophic explosion resulted in the deaths of 11 platform workers, and the destruction of the rig.  To this day the stream of oil pouring into the gulf continues at a rate of approximately 5,000 to 100,000 barrels per day, covering a surface of at least 2,500 square miles.

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