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Rahall demands NOAA hand over environmental documents

By Juliet Eilperin

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WVa.) has demanded the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration turn over any documents that would help explain how the agency monitored how offshore oil and gas drilling might impact marine life in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a May 19 letter to NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco, Rahall asks her to provide his panel with information the agency has collected over the past five years in two key categories (direct quotes in italics):

• Unredacted copies of any and all documents related to potential impacts to threatened and endangered species, marine mammals, Essential Fish Habitat, critical habitat and fisheries as a result of energy development activities in the Gulf of Mexico, where such activities include but are not limited to leasing plans, lease sales, geological or geophysical exploration, exploration or development plans, and drilling permits; and

• Unredacted copies of all formal or informal consultations and official or unofficial comments under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act related to energy development activities in the Gulf of Mexico, where such activities include but are not limited to leasing plans, lease sales, geological or geophysical exploration, exploration or development plans, and drilling permits.

The documents could shed light on why the Minerals Management Service has approved energy exploration in the Gulf of Mexico in the past without obtaining the required NOAA permits under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. A number of groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, are now suing the Obama administration on the issue.

Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, lauded Rahall's move, saying the documentation--which is due before the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife holds a hearing on the issue on June 15--will demonstrate a lack of government oversight.

"NOAA has been warning MMS since at least 2002 that it is violating the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act," he wrote in an e-mail. "You have to wonder why NOAA hasn't just shut MMS down by now. That may be what it takes to get the oil agency's attention."

By

Juliet Eilperin

 |  May 23, 2010; 6:00 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Posted by: Realness1 | May 23, 2010 10:45 PM
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This has been going on for over a month, and the Obama Administration has done NOTHING BUT POINT THE FINGERS AT OTHERS, AND NOW ……. APPOINTING A COMMISSION!! WHAT LEADERSHIP …. NOT!!!

On May 21, Robert Gibbs provided the feeble excuse that 'it was all about who was going to pay for the clean up." For Pete's sake, they were not concerned about who was going to pay for the following:

* The Stimulus
* The Auto Bailouts
* The TARP
* OBAMACARE
* The Bank in Chicago where Valerie Jarrett served on the board

But, when it comes to saving jobs in the Delta, LA, MS, and AL -- not to mention FL, Obama seems to be totally impotent! WHY?

A bigger question is now looming over his administration: WHY HAVE A DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR; HOME LAND SECURITY; OR DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO USE THEM FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PEOPLE WHO PAY TAXES??

The Obama Administration is coming across as the most incompetent in modern history. They are proving as each day goes by that it is ALL ABOUT THEM, AND NOT ABOUT THE PEOPLE OF THE USA!

Posted by: wheeljc | May 23, 2010 10:01 PM
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This oil gusher disaster is the result of gross negligence and wanton disregard by BP. Unfortunately, it appears that our government "oversight" permitted the entities involved in offshore oil and gas drilling to simply say we have the technology to drill safely. The result is the catastrophe occuring in the Gulf of Mexico. Are there criminal charges for violating the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and damage to property along the Gulf Coast as well as lost jobs? If so, who is going to bring charges? The stopping of the gusher should have occurred 3 weeks ago.

Posted by: cmvoorhees | May 23, 2010 12:31 PM
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The Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act don't sound anywhere near as important as the Geneva Conventions or the habeus corpus legal requirement that's been around since the 13th century, but, that didn't stop anyone from overlooking those "Acts". So why should they pay attention to regulations that get in the way of making a few extra bucks? Double standards if you ask me!

Posted by: icurhuman2 | May 23, 2010 6:46 AM
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