Rep. Michele Bachmann has criticized President Barack Obama for the way he's handled the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Recently, she pointed out that BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling project was actually approved by Obama's administration.
"Remember, this was under Obama's Minerals and Management Service bureau with his appointed chief of MMS who actually issued the permits and wrote all the approvals for exactly what BP did," she told WCCO reporter Pat Kessler in a June 16, 2010, interview. "This happened under President Obama's watch."
Bachmann is correct: The Obama administration gave BP the green light to start drilling.
The story of the Deepwater Horizon spill starts in 2008, when the Bush administration leased new drilling tracts in the Gulf of Mexico to several oil companies, including BP.
The following year, BP submitted an exploration plan to the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the arm of the Interior Department that oversees drilling. It stated that the company could, in the event of an oil spill, "respond, to the maximum extent practicable, to a worst-case discharge, or a substantial threat of such a discharge."
MMS then had 30 days to review the plan. During this time, MMS could have asked BP to do an extensive environmental impact review - it's technically required for some drilling projects - but the department gave BP a waiver instead.
In fact, such exemptions are common; according to an Interior Department spokesman speaking with the Washington Post, MMS issues between 250 and 400 annually for projects in the Gulf.
On April 6, 2009, MMS approved the plan.
The leasing process may have started under the previous administration, but it was Obama's officials who give the project a stamp of approval.
Bachmann's claim is accurate.
WCCO, interview with Rep. Michele Bachmann, June 16, 2010
The Minerals Management Service, Central Gulf of Mexico Sale 206 Nets $ 3.67 Billion in High Bids, August 4, 2008
BP, Initial Exploration Plan Mississippi Canyon Block 252, accessed June 30, 2010
The White House, Remarks by the President on the Gulf Oil Spill, May 27, 2010
The Washington Post, U.S. exempted BP's Gulf of Mexico drilling from environmental impact study, by Juliet Eilperin, May 5, 2010
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, accessed June 30, 2010
The Department of the Interior, Salazar Launches Safety and Environmental Protection Reforms to Toughen Oversight of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations, May 11, 2010
Interview, Richard Charter, Senior Policy Advisor, Defenders of Wildlife, June 30, 2010
Interview, Rachel Horn, spokeswoman, Rep. Michele Bachmann, June 30, 2010
Interview, Kendra Barkoff, spokeswoman, the Department of the Interior, June 30, 2010
Next week PoliGraph will start to appear more frequently and will focus on the DFL candidates for governor as the August 10 primary election approaches.
Plenty of blame to be shared between administrations and parties, but none of it is productive. Cap, compensate, repair and return the Gulf and its citizens to their former state/lives.
Article summarizes Ms. Bachmann's conversation with Scott Hennen. It also pokes some fun at the congresswoman.
Here is a very funny article about Bachmann that repubs and dems can enjoy equally.
This is a shallow analysis. Obama had been in office a whole two and-a-half months. The new person in charge at MMS was probably in that post for even less time. He or she was probably relying on the career civil servants for advice and recommendations on the project.
President Obama was correct when he accepted fault for the oil disaster in the Gulf. Incompetence by the administration in granting environmental waivers and flawed project monitoring of Deepwater Horizon were major factors, probably the most important factors resulting in the disaster. The follow-up after the disaster was mishandled as well. At that point in time finger pointing and blame was unproductive and all efforts should have been squarely centered on getting the flow stopped. Instead of spearheading that work the administration began a campaign to demonize BP and dispatched a team of lawyers to process criminal liability. Both of these actions were counterproductive and dangerous to the focus of the job at hand which was to cooperate in every way possible to stop the leak. Once the leak is stopped there will be plenty of time to point blame and investigate misdeeds. These actions do not correlate with the President's promise of change in how Washington operates.