Digging into the BP Gulf oil spill and its impacts? Despite the new, apparently unwritten law against digging journalistically into the impacts of the spill, there are information resources hidden just beneath the surface of the federal web pages. They may help you dig into other oil/environment stories as well.
Here are some that have … er … washed up on the beach recently:
- NOAA Coastal Legislative Atlas. This layered, map-based GIS database gives you a good idea of what federal laws might apply to any given stretch of US coast. It covers all US coasts, not just the Gulf.
- Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE, formerly MMS) Well Permit Database. This database contains application, permit, and operating information about most of the BOEMRE-permitted offshore wells. It would help you if you were permitted access to it, but you are not. Only the oil companies are allowed to see it. eWell Permitting and Reporting System.
- Database of Interior Dept. Inspector General reports on BOEMRE (MMS) matters, online and searchable by the public.
- BOEMRE Pipeline Permits Database online and searchable by the public, offers data about pipelines that collect oil and gas from the wells in the Gulf.
- The "Library and Reading Room" portion of BOEMRE's site has a lot of documents which may offer starting points for further inquiry. It complies more with the letter of FOIA's reading room provisions than the spirit. It documents in extensive detail many recent Congressional requests for information from MMS/BOEMRE, but does not in many cases include full information responsive to them.
- EPA Gulf of Mexico Program page: includes Gulf environmental info EPA was compiling before the BP spill, such as water quality at Gulf beaches.
- EPA BP Spill page: includes some recent water, air, and sediment sampling test data.