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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Environmentalists To Sue EPA Over Dispersant Use

William Reilly, Bob Graham (Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP)
A coalition of environmental and community groups, the Louisiana Shrimp Association, the Gulf Restoration Network, citing a draft report released last week by the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission, petitioned the EPA to write new rules regulating the future use of dispersants in fighting oil spills. The petition was organized by Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental justice group, which also filed a 60-day notice of a lawsuit to try to force EPA to publicly identify where dispersants may be used and how much is safe.

The Louisiana Shrimp Association noted that:

"Unprecedented use of toxic dispersants during the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster without prior scientific study and evaluation of the effects to the Gulf of Mexico marine ecosystems and human health was a horrific mistake that should never have been allowed to happen." 
In its draft report on the use of dispersants, the commission staff concluded that they could not say EPA acted "unreasonably" in its decision to use massive volumes of dispersants, "because federal agencies had failed to plan adequately" and they simply knew too little to make a better informed decision. The Center agrees with the commission's conclusion.  The commission is chaired by Bill Reilly and Bob Graham.

The EPA responded to the petition with a statement saying that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson "has made clear that one of the lessons of this spill is that we need to learn more about the use and long-term impact of dispersants" and that she is "committed to revising the 15-year old process by which these products end up on the National Contingency Plan Product Schedule," and had committed $2 million to conduct additional research. (NOLA.com, 10/13/2010)

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