Even though BP first applied for a permit to drill the Gulf of Mexico’s Macondo Well in 2007, key data used to approve the permit dates back to two studies initially done in 1981 and 1986, reports the Council on Environmental Quality in a review released today [pdf.].
The BP permit process relied on the National Environmental Protection Act passed in 1970 that allows for an expedited review process known as “Categorical Exclusions,” which prevent a review of an individual site when the site falls within established categories. However, deepwater drilling wasn’t widespread when the categorical exclusions for BP’s permit were written in the 80’s. As a result of this finding, the Obama Administration announced today that the use of categorical exclusions is being reviewed and that any new deepwater drilling permit must undergo a site-specific analysis.