Saturday, January 13, 2018

Scott Angelle is sinking to new heights

Last month, the Advocate published a friendly profile of former Louisiana Public Service Commissioner and failed gubernatorial/congressional candidate Scott Angelle.  Angelle has recently landed a new job which he enjoys very much.
Once a ubiquitous presence on the Louisiana political scene, Angelle arrived in D.C. in May to become director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. It’s a job historically held by an unknown bureaucrat with an office in the massive U.S. Department of Interior building, three blocks from the White House.

But President Donald Trump is pushing American “energy dominance” as a cornerstone of his presidency. This puts Angelle at the president’s shoulder for enabling domestic fossil fuels production.

In October, the Trump administration proposed opening nearly 77 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico — the largest offering in U.S. history — for oil and gas drilling. The lease sales are scheduled for March.

On Nov. 28, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement approved energy exploration in the Arctic.

And just before the Christmas holiday, Angelle’s office suspended as duplicative a study meant to improve how regulators enforce safety on offshore rigs in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 and spilled an estimated 3.2 million barrels of oil 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana.

All this activity has enraged environmentalists, but it falls in line with Angelle’s beliefs.

“This is a really, really impactful job for America, and it’s really important to Louisiana’s economy,” said Angelle, who previously oversaw oilfield activity in Louisiana as secretary of the Department of Natural Resources under two governors.
Scott Angelle has "enraged environmentalists"? That doesn't seem right.  Don't they remember the major environmental award he received in 2011? Or does the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association's "Blue Heron Award" not speak for itself? 
Aaron Viles, deputy director of the Gulf Restoration Network, questioned whether it is ever appropriate for an association to give an award to someone who oversees the regulation of its members.

"Mid Continent giving an environmental award to Scott Angelle is like GE giving a nuclear safety award to the leadership of Fukushima Prefecture," Viles said.

But Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who handed out the award, said in a statement that "Scott has been a warrior for our people and our coast."
So harsh! Those rage-prone environmentalists sure do hate "energy dominance," I guess. As does this judge, apparently.
In a blistering new ruling, a state district judge criticized three companies for putting "economic interests over environmental and safety concerns" in operations that led to the formation of the 2012 Bayou Corne sinkhole, blaming longtime salt mining operator Texas Brine, Occidental Chemical and Vulcan Materials for the flawed underground mine that sparked the giant hole in the Louisiana swamp.
At the very least, he hates salt dominance, anyway.  The case against the companies includes a paper trail of memos and emails demonstrating the parties were aware of the environmental hazards associated with creating the mine but moved forward anyway because, as the judge put it, "each party was blinded by the financial implications of their actions.”  One such hazard they ignored was this oil well.
Salt caverns are often filled with highly concentrated brine when they are closed. Like the air in a balloon, the brine helps maintain a shut cavern's supporting salt structure against geologic forces that naturally press down on the underground cavity.

Kliebert accepted the Texas Brine expert's theory that an oil formation, depleted and depressurized from the old well, was tied into the cavern due to fractures in the thin salt wall. The oil formation provided a place for leaking brine to go that otherwise would not exist so deep underground.
But sometimes you have to push through that stuff.  Ignoring safety hazards in the hope of wriggling out of your share of the blame later is just how Louisiana does business.  Angelle knows. He resigned from the Department of Natural Resources at just the right time, after all.  That's exactly the sort of presence of mind it takes to win you a cushy job in the Trump Administration doing the Energy Dominance... not to mention the Blue Heron Awards you pick up along the way. Very prestigious.

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