Last week, staff from Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society and Earthworks hand delivered 133,501 petitions to the U.S. Department of Justice, urging them to hold BP accountable to the fullest extent of the law for the 2010 gulf oil disaster.
This week, the Department of Justice reduced the "fullest extent of the law" by lowering the maximum potential fine by $3.4 billion, just one week ahead of their scheduled trial.
Clearfield County, Pennsylvania and the Gulf of Mexico don t seem to have much in common. Different landscapes, environments, communities. But now these far-flung locations are linked by accidents that the oil and gas industry insists are unlikely to happen, and the failure of blowout preventers it considers an adequate safeguard.
But they went said nothing -- raising grave doubts about whether the company is being honest about the danger of hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells.
As many of you know, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is Halliburton's patented process for injecting huge volumes of chemical-laced fluid into natural gas wells to force deposits to the surface. In 2005, the drilling services company's lobbying opened the Halliburton Loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act, exempting fracking from federal regulation.
Of course, Halliburton assured Congress and the EPA that fracking is safe, but that has not been the experience of people who live near natural gas wells in Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states.
Last week, the House Natural Resources Committee approved the CLEAR Act, a bill that would vastly improve our current energy policies affecting federal lands and ocean areas.
As the BP oil slick grows in the Gulf of Mexico, and it becomes increasingly likely that the disaster could irreversibly devastate the economy and environment of the Gulf Coast, consider that the oversight of onshore drilling is not appreciably better than offshore if at all.
President Obama has (at least temporarily) reinstated the ban on new offshore drilling. But he needs to protect our waters onshore as well, and support the FRAC Act.