President Trump Weakens Key Offshore Drilling Safety Regulations
Measures to Prevent Another Offshore Drilling Disaster Gutted Following Anniversary of BP Deepwater Horizon
Press Release Date: May 2, 2019
Location: Washington, DC
Today, President Trump finalized plans to weaken the Well Control Rule, a key offshore drilling safety measure created to address deficiencies in offshore safety identified in the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. The Deepwater Horizon explosion claimed the lives of 11 people, spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, devastated marine ecosystems and led to tens of billions of dollars in economic damage.
Oceana campaign director Diane Hoskins released the following statement in response to today’s announcement:
“Gutting the few offshore drilling safeguards established in wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster is reckless and wrong. The President is putting industry cost-savings ahead of safety just weeks after the anniversary of the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Today’s announcement is a major step backward in offshore drilling safety. Our government shouldn’t be catering to the demands of the oil industry at the expense of public and environmental safety. Focusing on industry cost-savings entirely disregards the safety and environmental benefits the rule was intended to provide in the first place. More drilling and less safety is a recipe for disaster. We should be implementing new safety reforms, not rolling back the few safety measures currently in place.”
The Well Control Rule was the result of six years of extensive investigation into both the causes of the BP oil spill as well as deficiencies in offshore drilling safety.
Changes to the Well Control Rule include:
- Drastic reductions in the frequency, duration and oversight of blowout preventer testing.
- Weakening real-time onshore monitoring requirements.
- Removing a requirement that the government authenticate and approve third-party organizations evaluating offshore drilling safety – a key layer of oversight necessary to avoid undue industry influence over the organizations certifying that drilling operations and maintenance are being conducted in a safe manner.
Changes to the Well Control Rule will save the offshore oil and gas industry $824 million over 10 years, according to government estimates. This amount compares to the industry’s annual profits which are reportedly in the billions.
For a more in-depth analysis of these changes and other shortfalls in offshore drilling safety, please visit Oceana’s new report www.oceana.org/DirtyDrilling. Analysis of the Well Control Rule begins on page 19.