In answer to the question, will the stupidity ever end? NO! All the discussion about the problems with MMS and their corruption and incompetence as well as the lack of the oil industry to have advanced oil cleaning technology has not changed anything. It certainly has not changed BP's ability to manipulate the government regulators. Oh, well, if we can't have off shore drilling let's just make a little island out of some gravel and call it land. Yea, Obama's in charge. He's the man alright.
New York Times
The future of BP’s offshore oil operations in the Gulf of Mexico has been thrown into doubt by the recent drilling disaster and court wrangling over a moratorium.
But about three miles off the coast of Alaska, BP is moving ahead with a controversial and potentially record-setting project to drill two miles under the sea and then six to eight miles horizontally to reach what is believed to be a 100-million-barrel reservoir of oil under federal waters.
All other new projects in the Arctic have been halted by the Obama administration’s moratorium on offshore drilling, including more traditional projects like Shell Oil’s plans to drill three wells in the Chukchi Sea and two in the Beaufort.
But BP’s project, called Liberty, has been exempted as regulators have granted it status as an “onshore” project even though it is about three miles off the coast in the Beaufort Sea. The reason: it sits on an artificial island — a 31-acre pile of gravel in about 22 feet of water — built by BP.
The project has already received its state and federal environmental permits, but BP has yet to file its final application to federal regulators to begin drilling, which it expects to start in the fall.
Some scientists and environmentalists say that other factors have helped keep the project moving forward.
Rather than conducting their own independent analysis, federal regulators, in a break from usual practice, allowed BP in 2007 to write its own environmental review for the project as well as its own consultation documents relating to the Endangered Species Act, according to two scientists from the Alaska office of the federal Mineral Management Service that oversees drilling.
The environmental assessment was taken away from the agency’s unit that typically handles such reviews, and put in the hands of a different division that was more pro-drilling, said the scientists, who discussed the process because they remained opposed to how it was handled.
“The whole process for approving Liberty was bizarre,” one of the federal scientists said.
The scientists and other critics say they are worried about a replay of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico because the Liberty project involves a method of drilling called extended reach that experts say is more prone to the types of gas kicks that triggered the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon.
“It makes no sense,” said Rebecca Noblin, the Alaska director for the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental watchdog group. “BP pushes the envelope in the gulf and ends up causing the moratorium. And now in the Arctic they are forging ahead again with untested technology, and as a result they’re the only ones left being allowed to drill there.”
The Liberty field lies about five miles from land under the shallow waters of the Beaufort Sea in an area populated during the winter by seals and polar bears and covered by thick floating ice.
During the summer, bowhead whales migrate through the region.
More at NYT.