Demand Environmental Review of Offshore Drilling!

The BP drilling plan that led to the April 20 deadly explosion -- killing 11 people and causing the largest oil spill in U.S. history -- was approved without environmental review. Despite the Gulf catastrophe, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued 19 new drilling approvals after the explosion -- all exempt from environmental review under the "categorical exclusion" exemption policy.

This loophole in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was meant only to apply to projects with little to no negative effects, such as outhouse and hiking-trail construction -- not massive deepwater oil drilling.

Now, billions of dollars in damage to the Gulf and coastal states later, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the agency tasked with ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under NEPA, is reviewing this loophole that allows oil drilling to skip these legally required environmental reviews. We have until June 17th to urge them to close this loophole.

If environmental impacts are truly examined, there is a good chance offshore drilling will have to stop. Please make your voice heard and demand environmental review of offshore drilling today.
Dear Mr. Greczmiel,

I am writing to urge the Council on Environmental Quality to protect our coasts and oceans through rigorous environmental review of offshore oil and gas activities throughout the United States. The conduct of the Minerals Management Service that preceded the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion is shameful and will blight our nation's history and the environment.

The use of the categorical exclusion process has been an ineffective tool for ensuring thorough environmental review of oil and gas activities. The oil and gas industry has had a free pass with respect to complying with the laws demanding protection of marine mammals, endangered species, and clean water. This can no longer continue, especially in light of the devastation in the Gulf of Mexico.
The U.S. government has a responsibility to protect natural resources for the benefit of its citizens. The National Environmental Policy Act seeks to guarantee this protection through analyzing relevant environmental risks and allowing public participation. The use of categorical exclusions in the context of approvals for oil and gas activities eviscerates this law entirely.

Please act now to end all use of categorical exclusions for oil and gas activities. Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on this important review of the Minerals Management Service's policies, practices, and procedures.
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