President Obama declared a moratorium on new oil drilling permits and environmental waivers two weeks ago, but his administration hasn't actually stopped giving out those permits and waivers. Since the May 14 declaration, it has granted at least seven drilling permits and five environmental waivers, the New York Times reports. Some of the waivers are for procedures much like the one that caused the Deepwater Horizon explosion, and many projects are set to occur in even deeper, more perilous waters.
Department of the Interior officials say the procedures are safety necessities, and that the moratorium was only meant to apply to new wells, not new work on existing projects. But critics say that makes the moratorium toothless, since the current disaster sprung from work on an existing well. “We were given the clear impression that these waivers and permits were not being granted,” said one Democratic senator. “There should be stronger environmental reviews, not weaker.”