Last night, after weeks of unflattering coverage from us of his department, the head of the government agency that gives out deepwater drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico appeared on our show. Michael Bromwich answered questions about why the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement has continued to issue permits even after the agency posted a report showing that blowout preventers may need to be redesigned. Mr. Bromwich permitted another well after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the government plans new and better regulations for the blowout preventers at some point in the future.
Afterward, Rachel closed by saying she’d expected a very different kind of resolution from the interview. “I have never been more freaked out about this story and those permits than I am now after talking to him,” she said. “Wow.” Key sections below, full video after the jump.
On the new caps for undersea spills, which for BP’s disaster were 87 days in coming:
MADDOW: This week, Helix revealed themselves that by their own assessment, it could take them 17 days to contain a spill. Seventeen days is the new fast response that we’re supposed to feel better about in terms of containing a disaster that has already happened. That to me that doesn’t feel like a great advance that would justify the type of rash issuing of permits that you’ve just done over the last 33 days.
BROMWICH: Well, these haven’t been the rash issuance of permits, as I said. We issued none until the latter part of February. We were strongly criticized for dragging our heels on not issuing any permits for several months after the lifting of the deepwater drilling moratorium which actually lifted in October, not in February. And the reason we didn’t was because the containment capabilities were not yet ready.
You’re right, 17 days is not fabulous, but 17 days is a lot better than 87 days –