More Failures at MMS

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I have a piece up today about the litany of failures at the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Services over the years that may have contributed to the current situation in the Gulf of Mexico. And it doesn’t end there.

Washington Post has another piece of damning evidence on MMS today, reporting that the division “exempted BP’s calamitous Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact analysis last year.”

An MMS evaluation of the Deepwater Horizon lease application vastly underestimated the amount of oil that could be spilled from the rig, and said it would not likely reach the coast. The evaluations prompted MMS to give the operation a “categorical exclusion” from the National Environmental Policy Act in April 2009.

The Post also has more on BP’s underestimation of potential spills:

BP’s exploration plan for Lease 206, which calls the prospect of an oil spill “unlikely,” stated that “no mitigation measures other than those required by regulation and BP policy will be employed to avoid, diminish or eliminate potential impacts on environmental resources.”

While the plan included a 13-page environmental impact analysis, it minimized the prospect of any serious damage associated with a spill, saying there would be only “sub-lethal” effects on fish and marine mammals, and “birds could become oiled. However it is unlikely that an accidental oil spill would occur from the proposed activities.”

Looks like MMS might still have a long way to go in cleaning up its act.

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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