By Glynn Wilson —
MOBILE, Ala. — The Trump administration held public meetings in cities along the Gulf Coast this week to generate public comments on the environmental impacts of opening up 95 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to new oil and gas leases.
But while federal law and national policy calls for taking into account the impacts of massive new oil and gas drilling on climate change due to global warming from the burning of fossil fuels, the agency holding the public meetings did not even have a copy of the regulations about the impacts on climate on hand to answer the public’s questions about the issue.
Caryl Fagot, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management staffer tasked with answering questions from the press and media at public meetings, deferred questions about those impacts to a “subject matter expert.” But when asked about it, another staffer thumbed through a thick book of regulations for a citation but indicated they did not even have a copy of the specific regulation on hand (see video).
When asked what has changed under the Trump administration from the Obama administration and the Bush administration, Fagot said, “Nothing has changed under Trump.”
But according to press releases from the White House and the Department of the Interior, the Trump administration has announced a plan to review all federal regulations imposed by previous administrations on oil and gas drilling in the interest of streamlining the bureaucracy to make it easier and cheaper for oil companies to drill.
Citizens who have followed the related issues since the federal lawsuit against British Petroleum for the 2010 Gulf oil disaster have reason to be concerned, since investigations concluded that lax enforcement of regulations were partially to blame for the largest and most costly environmental disaster in U.S. history.
The five year lease plan under review was developed under the Obama administration, and the public meetings were met with no protests by environmental activists and little visible public opposition, an odd state of affairs considering all the resistance to the Trump administration on health care and other issues.
“This issue has the potential to have more devastating long-term impacts than any other issue we face,” said David Underhill, a resident of Mobile who has closely followed industry and environmental controversies in the Gulf region since long before the BP Gulf oil blowout.
“The corals forming the Great Barrier Reef along the coast of Australia are dying from the effects of fossil fuels on climate,” he said. “This reef is the oceans’ canary in the coal mine, warning us of approaching dangers. The Trumpsters are killing the canary so we won’t notice it’s getting sick.”
The Trump administration has already ordered the removal of climate change and global warming websites at the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies, leading to protests by scientists and citizens. Trump has also ordered a media blackout at federal agencies, prohibiting science experts on staff of the federal agencies to talk to the press at all about these issues.
Watch the Video
© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.