comScore Rachel Maddow: Um, Why Were Walruses Listed In BP’s Oil Drill Plan?

Rachel Maddow: Um, Why Were Walruses Listed In BP’s Oil Drill Plan?


If you’ve read the Rolling Stone story about the Obama administration’s response to the BP oil spill you were likely struck by the passage about how government oversite was so lax no one bothered to flag the fact BP had listed walruses as one of the animals needing protection in case of a spill in its application to drill, which was submitted 2 months after Obama took office. From Rolling Stone:

Nowhere was the absurdity of the policy more evident than in the application that BP submitted for its Deepwater Horizon well only two months after Obama took office. BP claims that a spill is “unlikely” and states that it anticipates “no adverse impacts” to endangered wildlife or fisheries. Should a spill occur, it says, “no significant adverse impacts are expected” for the region’s beaches, wetlands and coastal nesting birds. The company, noting that such elements are “not required” as part of the application, contains no scenario for a potential blowout, and no site-specific plan to respond to a spill. Instead, it cites an Oil Spill Response Plan that it had prepared for the entire Gulf region. Among the sensitive species BP anticipates protecting in the semitropical Gulf? “Walruses” and other cold-water mammals, including sea otters and sea lions. The mistake appears to be the result of a sloppy cut-and-paste job from BP’s drilling plans for the Arctic.

During an interview with NBC’s Tom Costello BP COO Doug Suttles said the reason the walruses were included was that BP was merely trying to cover its bases and were actually referring to “all species not just ones unique to the Gulf.”

Says Maddow: “I can’t really stress this enough, the plan…is called ‘Regional Oil Spill Response Plan – Gulf of Mexico’ so ‘oh we meant to do that, we were talking about all species, everywhere, plus unicorns!’ That’s not even a remotely believable answer.”

It gets worse. Suttles told Costello the technology to clean up the spill didn’t exist because there hadn’t been enough big spills to promote its development. Yes, he really said that. Maddow: “If only there had been some oil spills, that would have fixed this problem.”

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