While our attention has been riveted on BP’s disastrous blowout in the Gulf, the British oil giant has been quietly and quickly drilling another risky offshore well three miles off of Alaska’s north coast.
Dubbed “Liberty,” this project requires a technique called “extended reach,” which is even more prone to explosions than the Gulf process. First, BP is drilling down two miles under the Beaufort Sea, then going sideways for up to eight miles to tap into one of our national oil reserves.
But wait — didn’t Obama impose a moratorium on such offshore drilling? Yes ... But when Liberty was planned in the Bush years, it was magically declared by his devil-may-care regulators to be an “onshore project.” How can that be? Because the rig sits on a tiny artificial island that BP built, so — voila! — it’s “onshore” even though it’s three miles offshore.
Also, just as in the Gulf, industry-cozy regulators let BP write its own environmental impact statements for Liberty. And — guess what?
— BP’s 2007 statement said BP would cause no environmental problems. A-OK, said the winking regulators, as they rubber-stamped the project. And what about a disaster response plan, just in case, you know, something bad does happen? Not to worry, BP assured everyone, because the likelihood of a blowout is very remote.
So, here we go again. To learn more about BP’s Liberty escapade, and to learn what you can do besides warning the sea animals to flee, call the Center for Biological Diversity in Alaska: 907-274- 1110.