Thursday, October 14, 2010

Obama Lifts Gulf Oil Drilling Moratorium...Earthjustice Files a Lawsuit

Earlier this week the Obama administration lifted the temporary moratorium of offshore oil drilling the the Gulf of Mexico.  The moratorium was put in place after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil leak and lifted after BP demonstrated (at least enough) that they could avoid a recurrence.  The very next day a coalition of environmental and health advocacy groups led by Earthjustice filed a petition to EPA under the Clean Water Act to revisit the process of assessing the toxicity of chemical dispersants such as those used to "clean up" the Deepwater spill.  According to their press release:
“Unprecedented use of toxic dispersants during the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster without prior scientific study and evaluation on the effect to Gulf of Mexico marine ecosystems and human health was a horrific mistake that should never have been allowed to happen,” said Clint Guidry of the Louisiana Shrimp Association. “Potential ecosystem collapse caused by toxic dispersant use during this disaster will have immediate and long term effects on the Gulf's traditional fishing communities’  ability to sustain our culture and heritage.”

Earthjustice is no stranger to filing lawsuits and writing reports in an effort to protect the environment. Last month they published a report on the "toxic threat" of coal ash "to our health and environment" and are lobbying to get EPA to strengthen their proposed coal ash rule.

For their current filing Earthjustice wants EPA to require additional toxicity testing and ingredient disclosure.  When Deepwater happened it was determined that EPA really didn't have suitable toxicity data on the main dispersant used or its alternatives, and they rushed to do some toxicity testing.  Of course, this took time, and basically was meaningless as BP had to keep using the original dispersant while EPA "did research."  Earthjustice wants this research to be done now, and for companies to have to reveal what is actually in the dispersant mixes likely to be used.
“We need to make sure that we understand the full effects of dispersants on the environment and human health,” said Florida Wildlife Federation President Manley Fuller. “And when dispersants are used, we need to be sure they are as safe as possible.”

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