For Immediate Release, June 14, 2010
Contact: Mike Stark, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 623-5252
Babbitt Blasts Interior's MMS Reform Plan as Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic
Center for Biological Diversity Also Endorses Shifting Offshore Environmental Permitting Away From MMS
TUCSON, Ariz.— Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt has blasted an Interior Department proposal to allow the Minerals Management Service to continue to have environmental oversight of offshore drilling. Speaking on “Platts Energy Week” on Sunday, Babbitt said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s proposal doesn’t go far enough, likening it to “rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.” Babbitt suggests shifting oversight to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Center for Biological Diversity agreed that the MMS is grossly unqualified to provide critical environmental oversight of offshore work, as evidenced by the Gulf of Mexico spill disaster. In fact, MMS – an agency created by the stroke of a pen during the Reagan administration – has no inherent mandate from Congress to protect the country’s air, water and wildlife.
“This MMS is so corrupt it’d be hopeless to expect to it to provide any meaningful environmental regulation that does anything but give offshore projects the green light,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center.
Salazar has suggested dividing MMS into three separate divisions: drilling permits, revenue collection and safety enforcement. But the proposed reform does nothing to eliminate the close ties MMS has had – and the industry has exploited – for years.
“We need a much more fundamental shift than Salazar has suggested,” Suckling said. “Environmental regulation ought to be left with environmental experts, like the EPA, not with an agency that simply churns out drilling permits and collects revenue.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 260,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.