A few days into the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, NOAA's ERMA team created a new, regional version of their web-based mapping application, incorporating data specific to the Gulf of Mexico and the rapidly escalating Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Here, ERMA shows the location of the wellhead, the days of cumulative oiling on the ocean surface, and the level of oiling observed on shorelines. Photo: NOAA

By Umair Irfan
23 June 2018

(Vox) – Trump’s executive order voids an Obama policy that aimed to prevent oil spills.

The Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig exploded on 20 April 2010, killing 11 workers. Gas erupted into a massive fireball, and then the rig gushed 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It soon became the largest and most expensive marine oil spill in history, with an estimated $17.2 billion in damages to properties, fisheries, and tourism across the Gulf Coast.

In response, President Barack Obama signed an executive order creating a commission to study the spill. The commission recommended new safety rules, accountability standards, and environmental regulations for drilling in US waters. Obama then signed another executive order to promote environmental stewardship of the ocean, coasts, and the Great Lakes in light of the oil spill. According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the new rules were “the most aggressive and comprehensive reforms to offshore oil and gas regulation and oversight in U.S. history.”

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump revoked Obama’s stewardship directive, replacing it with a new executive order giving more responsibility to states for offshore oil and gas drilling, as well as prioritizing business interests ahead of the environment.Trump said the measure is “rolling back excessive bureaucracy created by the previous administration.” (There was no mention of the Deepwater Horizon spill in his announcement or in the executive order.)

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, said the order “puts our country’s ocean policy back on the right track.”

A former member of the Coast Guard who served during Deepwater Horizon was appalled:

“I was activated and deployed to the gulf for Deepwater Horizon. We killed ourselves out there, up to our armpits in toxic chemicals, to make sure this was fixed and never happened again. All undone in an instant, for no other reason than the whim of a rich, entitled monbster [my edit –Des].” [more]

Deepwater Horizon led to new protections for US waters. Trump just repealed them.

By Miyoko Sakashita
20 June 2018

(The Hill) – President Trump’s repeal of our National Ocean Policy makes it crystal clear that his administration views our oceans solely as a source of profits for the oil industry and other polluters.

He’s prioritizing the plunder of our seas over their protection.

Trump’s one-sided approach to our oceans was already clear. It was evident from his proposal to expand offshore oil drilling into all U.S. oceans, attempts to revoke protections for the Arctic and marine monuments, abandonment of the Paris climate accord, and ignoring legal obligations to protect West Coast orcas and other endangered marine species.

But his executive order to “ensure that Federal regulations and management decisions do not prevent productive and sustainable use of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters” strikes out ocean conservation and coastal protection.

Let’s be clear: This policy shift favors the fossil fuel and fishing industries over coastal communities that rely on clean seas. It pushes for the industrialization of our oceans and coastal areas instead of their wise stewardship and science-based management. It strips out science-based climate policies and instead promotes fossil fuel uses.

Industrializing our oceans is exactly what we don’t need. Whales, sea turtles, and other marine animals are already struggling against a long list of threats, including overfishing, plastic pollution, climate change, and the seismic blasting, toxic fracking chemicals, and oil spills that come with offshore drilling.

Trump’s order repeals the conservation-focused ocean policy that the Obama administration enacted in 2010 after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history. It chooses willful ignorance over learning lessons from that deadly tragedy.

The policy shift offered by Obama was a small, measured step away from the hands-off federal policies that allowed the fossil fuel industry and other coastal polluters to operate with little meaningful oversight and endanger the health and safety of the public and marine life.

The Trump administration was already pursuing the repeal of offshore drilling safety regulations enacted as a direct result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Trump officials have also failed to complete legally-required biological assessments of Gulf of Mexico marine life, which still hasn’t recovered from that massive oil spill and the chemical dispersants used on it. [more]

Trump’s new ocean policy chooses plunder over protection



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