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WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2018 – The Trump administration today relaxed offshore drilling safety rules adopted after the deadly BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, the country’s worst environmental disaster.
Today’s regulatory rollback comes as the administration is pushing to expand offshore oil drilling into every U.S. ocean and holding the biggest offshore drilling auctions in U.S. history.
“It’s madness to expand dangerous offshore drilling while making it even less safe. This reckless administration is risking catastrophic oil spills along every U.S. coastline,” said Miyoko Sakashita, ocean program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “By willfully ignoring Deepwater Horizon’s lessons, Trump is displaying disdain for even modest environmental protections.”
The new rule removes the requirement for third-party inspections of offshore-drilling safety equipment and the requirement that operators notify regulators about oil production being shut down and restarted, among other changes. Today’s rule change is the first in a package of offshore drilling safety rules that the administration is proposing to rescind or weaken.
The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has also proposed major changes to the Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule, which was a direct response to one of the causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. That 2010 explosion killed 11 rig workers and caused more than 210 million gallons of oil to flow uncontrolled into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months.
“Deepwater Horizon killed thousands of marine mammals and birds and cost the Gulf Coast billions of dollars. Why would this administration seek to inflict that same kind of damage on other coastal communities? It boggles the mind,” Sakashita said. “We need to phase out offshore oil drilling, not make it drastically more pervasive and dangerous.”