GAO: Alaska Offshore Drilling Decision Based on Faulty Analysis

Photo under Creative Commons license, via Flickr.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Remember the Obama administration’s big announcement last week that it plans to expand offshore drilling? It turns out that the environmental analysis of at least one of the new drilling areas may have been faulty.

According to a Government Accountability Office report released yesterday, the Alaska regional office of the Minerals Management Service within the Department of Interior failed to follow internal policy and hid from employees industry-generated reports examining the environmental impacts of more drilling. Office management claims it kept information secret to “protect proprietary information” of oil and gas companies.

Regional staff say that the secrecy within the office “has hindered their ability to complete sound environmental assessments.” The report was just released, but the Interior Department had drafts sometime before March 1—well before the agency decided to go ahead and open areas of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska to drilling.

Robert McClure at Investigate West has more on the GAO report, noting that some scientists who were fed up with being forced to do half-baked reports quit. Writes McClure:

Remember, folks, we are talking here about the Obama administration, which, as we noted recently, seems reminiscent of the Bush administration on some enviro matters lately. This latest finding flies in the face of President Obama’s chest-pounding about how his administration would end the era of arm-twisting government scientists.

“If the same managers who manipulated and suppressed scientific evaluations are still in charge, why should the public expect candid assessments of environmental impacts to suddenly begin?” asked Jeff Ruch, executive director of the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, in a statement. Alaskan anti-drilling advocates are calling for the Obama administration to rescind its decision to open these areas of Alaska until the environmental analysis can be reviewed. 

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate