Center for Biological Diversity

Stop Risky Offshore Drilling Without Environmental Review

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The BP drilling plan that led to the April 20 deadly explosion -- killing 11 people and causing the largest oil spill in U.S. history -- was approved without environmental review. Despite the Gulf catastrophe, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued 19 new drilling approvals after the explosion -- all exempt from environmental review under the "categorical exclusion" exemption policy.

This loophole in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was meant only to apply to projects with little to no negative effects, such as outhouse and hiking-trail construction -- not massive deepwater oil drilling. The controversy over BP's drilling plan deepened when it was revealed that hundreds of dangerous offshore oil-drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico evade environmental review every year.

Now, billions of dollars in damage to the Gulf and coastal states later, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the agency tasked with ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under NEPA, is reviewing this loophole that allows oil drilling to skip these legally required environmental reviews. We need to act now to urge them to close this loophole.

We believe that if the full environmental effects of offshore drilling were examined, drilling would have to stop. Your comments to the head of CEQ are necessary to promote robust environmental analysis of these activities, including public comment opportunities.
Please make your voice heard and demand environmental review of offshore drilling today.

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Please submit comments by July 15, 2010.

BP spill flaring operation photo by Patrick Kelly, U.S. Coast Guard.