The U.S. is “on a course to repeat our mistakes” and face another oil disaster like BP’s Macondo well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, two experts warn.
The chilling cautionary words are given by former offshore drilling regulator Elizabeth Birnbaum and Jacqueline Savitz, vice president for U.S. Oceans at conservation organization Oceana, in op-ed published in the New York Times days ahead of the fourth anniversary of the epic oil catastrophe.
Birnbaum was head of Minerals Management Service at the time of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but in a move seen by some as “scapegoat firing” was ousted from the position weeks after the well began to spew oil into the Gulf. She is now a consultant at SEB Strategies.
Birnbaum and Savitz write that the Obama administration has yet to act on recommendations which could make offshore drilling safer.
“We would never have imagined so little action would be taken to prevent something like this from happening again. But, four years later, the Obama administration still has not taken key steps recommended by its experts and experts it commissioned to increase drilling safety. As a result, we are on a course to repeat our mistakes,” they write.
One the remaining threats Birnbaum and Savitz highlight has to do with blowout preventers, a point outlined in a “detailed and damning” December 2011 report of the National Academy of Engineering. The report found fault with the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer, and indicated that that same equipment “may be present” at other drilling operations. Yet new standards for blowout preventers have yet to be enforced, deepwater drilling continues, and new drilling leases in the Gulf are issued each year.
“The risk of another blowout is real,” they write.
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