DOI Concluded “Massive Spill Unlikely” In The Gulf: Will They Make The Same Mistake In Alaska?

After letting it gush unrestrained for over two weeks, clean-up crews might finally be able to regain control of the Deepwater Horizon, an offshore drilling rig operated by British Petroleum.

BP engineers are preparing to to lower a 98-ton metal chamber over the ruptured seabed well, in the hopes of slowing the spill’s spread, and siphoning the oil into barges waiting above.

Federal officials have been quick to reassure the country that BP would be held completely responsible for clean-up of this multi-state disaster.

On Thursday, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar commented that “very major mistakes” were made by companies involved in both the deadly explosion and the ensuing spill, but failed to own up to oversights perpetrated by his own department.

Multiple media outlets are reporting that the Interior Department failed to impose a full review of potential environmental impacts of the BP drilling operation because preliminary reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely.

When Ken Salazar took office in early 2009, he pledged to bring reform to the scandal plagued Mineral Management Service (MMS), which had been found by the U.S. inspector general to have traded sex, drugs, and financial favors with oil-company executives.

Just three months later, when BP submitted its Gulf drilling plans to the MMS, the agency chose to ignore the detailed environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act. Instead the MMS declared the plan to be “categorically excluded” from environmental analysis because it posed virtually no chance of harming the environment (read the one-page approval letter here).

Well, Salazar, looks like you should add your name to the long list of people that made “very major mistakes.”

And that list isn’t done growing yet.

In 2009, Salazar approved Shell Oil’s plan to drill in the delicate Beaufort and Chukchi seas. There is no existing technology to clean up a catastrophic oil spill in these icy waters off Alaska’s North Shore.

In approving Shell’s plans, Secretary Salazar accepted the company’s conclusion (they concluded it for themselves?!) that “a large oil spill, such as a crude oil release from a blowout, is extremely rare and not considered a reasonably foreseeable impact.”

Similarly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency in Secretary Salazar’s Interior Department that is charged with protecting the polar bear and other threatened and endangered species, declined to consider the impacts of a large oil spill in its Endangered Species Act analysis.

So if all of you on the West Coast are feeling jealous that you haven’t had your fill of environmental and economic catastrophe via oill spill, just sit tight, there’s probably one coming your way soon.

While Obama has announced that no new oil-drilling operations will occur until review of the Gulf spill is completed, both Shell and Secretary Salazar are apparently interpreting Obama’s directive as not applying to Shell’s drilling plans.

Shell’s drilling, unless stopped by Obama or the courts, would begin in early July, likely before the causes of the Gulf spill are determined, possibly before the leaking well is sealed, and certainly before cleanup in the Gulf is completed.

Unless we fight back.


Find full Care2 Coverage of the Spill here.

Image Credit: Audubon Society via

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Andrea M.
Andrea M.5 years ago

The west coast cannot take another oil spill! This drilling has got to stop immediately!

Mervi R.
Mervi R.5 years ago

Drilling really needs to stop now! Both petitions already signed.

Mike K.5 years ago

more spills ahead if drilling continues

Chloe Moll
Past Member 5 years ago

Every spill that has ever happened was deemed "unlikely". It still happened, it still killed, it still destroyed.

Luis J.
Luis Miguel J.5 years ago

It's the wors eirreponsailty that saw in my live, They never end the study of impat, its can't be possible, the oil industry is more dangerouse than benefcit to all the people. It cant happened again.

Heidi C.
Heidi L.5 years ago

Petitions signed

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

If you let them drill the same thing will just happen over and over again.

Claudia M.
Claudia Montoya5 years ago

The first try from BP to stop the leak has failed. Now they are talking of throwing tons of trash to clog the leak… I’m not kidding!!!
Read for yourself:,0,1190840.story

BP's first-quarter replacement cost profit was $5,598 million, compared with $2,387 million a year ago, an increase of 135%.

BP is using the cheapest alternatives to solve the problem and in doing so, they are only polluting more.

I PROPOSE AN INTERNATIONAL BOYCOTT TO BP. Go with your friends to the gas stations and take signs with you:

We don’t buy gas here until BP cleans up the mess!!!

Dispersants only pollute more, don’t buy at BP!!!

BP forcing fishermen to sign disclaimer!!!

If we can hurt them like this, they will hurry to really solve the problem.

Cal Jennings
Cal Jennings5 years ago

Alaska's politicians have already shown its contempt for wildlife and the environment, brought to us by Sarah Palin and her helicopter hunting. It makes me wonder if she ate the turkey she "pardoned" on Thanksgiving.

Even before the large spills, tar balls were floating in to gumify the beaches. What will it take for these people to realize that what they do to the environment is going to affect humans as well?

MICHELLE S.5 years ago

If you really want to get angry, go to the Oceana site and look at the rolling numbers of gallons of oil flowing into the Gulf every second. And it's all FREE...complements of BP (to destroy everything in its path)...such a deal!!!