GAO: Alaska Offshore Drilling Decision Based on Faulty Analysis

Photo under Creative Commons license, via Flickr.


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. 

THANK YOU.

We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight 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

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.