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Learning lessons on mining

Written By: - Date published: 10:06 am, May 15th, 2010 - 6 comments
Categories: Environment, Mining - Tags:

Here in NZ we have the issue of mining front and centre, with assurances that it will be done with due process. Gerry Brownlee must be feeling frustrated at the senario in the US which vividly illustrates what can happen when it all goes wrong. The NY Times examines how the situation came to be:

The federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits from another agency that assesses threats to endangered species — and despite strong warnings from that agency about the impact the drilling was likely to have on the gulf…

Managers at the agency have routinely overruled staff scientists whose findings highlight the environmental risks of drilling, according to a half-dozen current or former agency scientists.

The scientists, none of whom wanted to be quoted by name for fear of reprisals by the agency or by those in the industry, said they had repeatedly had their scientific findings changed to indicate no environmental impact or had their calculations of spill risks downgraded.

‘You simply are not allowed to conclude that the drilling will have an impact,’ said one scientist who has worked for the minerals agency for more than a decade. ‘If you find the risks of a spill are high or you conclude that a certain species will be affected, your report gets disappeared in a desk drawer and they find another scientist to redo it or they rewrite it for you.’

Not what I’d call reassuring….

6 comments on “Learning lessons on mining ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    That sounds like the norm for capitalism or, in fact, any hierarchical socio-economic system. The facts, if they go against the ruling minorities interest, are conveniently lost and forgotten. We end up with a community run on delusion.

  2. 350ppm 2

    This kind of thing happens in New Zealand already. Solid Energy whines about the cost of shifting the endangered native snail species Powelliphanta augustus from its only known habitat on the planet, in order to expand the Stockton coal mine into a pristine wilderness. However, the company and media that listen them completely fail to acknowledge that Department of Conservation scientists (and indeed Environment Court Judges) recommended that the snails’ habitat be left alone (e.g. http://bit.ly/bhvhOC )

  3. Doug 3

    There was an article at Huffington Post about how under the Bush/Cheney administration the regulatory oversight was severely compromised with the apointment of a lot of industry representatives.

    In effect the MMS became completely captured by the industry and ensured that any measures that reduced risks and incurred in relatively small additional costs were rejected.

    I think there is an argument to ask the Ex VP some difficult questions.

    And before anyone says that it happened on Obama’s watch and it is his fault. I partially agree, before promoting extended offshore drilling he should have had a major clean out fo the MMS, but the legacy effects from the original decisions to weaken thge oversight would be very difficult to remove.

  4. freedom 4

    The Drill Baby Drill attitude of the Bush regime was always doomed to this eventuality. When the Off-Shore Drilling laws of 2006 were being rammed through the Senate the weight of the bundles of cold hard cash that Senators use as doorstops was enough to crush all public education and right of protest to the suicidal impact the laws were presenting.

    Also, anyone who does not believe there is a Media Blackout in effect on DeepWater Horizon need only look at the last 72 hours of News, in print, online and on TV. It is a ghost of a story. Today’s Dompost a classic example, not a single mention on what is arguably the largest environmental threat in the World today. Remember the coverage on Bophal anyone? and that was nothing in comparison to the destruction of a sizeable portion of the World’s food chain.

    Good luck finding anything in the mainstream that has information fresher than three days old The independant news that makes it out at present is a rare beast, as most of the herd are being blocked, lost and generally shot on sight.

    Keep in mind the whole operation is now under the control of Homeland Security and not FEMA after it was declared a National Security issue late April, this was two or three days before the official declaration of a National Disaster.

    On a lighter note the most popular conspiracy theory involving North Korean Suicide Submarines should just about be closing its movie deal soon
    (not true about the movie deal- the suicide subs, well who knows? there is certainly some interesting data out there and releasing it through one of the most discredited hacks ever is a good and well practised ploy if it was true)

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