ENVIRONMENT
12/28/2017 10:21 pm ET

Trump Administration Moves To Weaken Offshore Safety Rules Prompted By 2010 Spill

The Interior Department says the rules created in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster cause "unnecessary regulatory burdens."

The Trump administration moved on Thursday to eliminate key offshore safety regulations adopted in the wake of the deadly Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the biggest in the nation’s history.

The move to cut the safety regulations came just hours before President Donald Trump said in a tweet that “we could use a little bit of that good old global warming” to counteract winter temperatures.

Dropping the rules is intended to “reduce certain unnecessary regulatory burdens,” stated the document outlining the changes by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Some of the proposals for relaxing the regulations were released Thursday by the BSEE, which estimates it would save companies $288 million over 10 years.

“I am confident that this revision of the Production Safety Systems Rule moves us forward toward meeting the administration’s goal of achieving energy dominance without sacrificing safety,” BSEE Director Scott Angelle said in a statement.

Changes involve loosened rules for safety and pollution prevention equipment, undersea safety devices and device testing, according to BSEE’s statement. Among the most significant of the proposed changes is dropping a requirement that safety and pollution prevention equipment be inspected by certified independent auditors.

The safety measures were adopted by the Obama administration in 2016 following an analysis of what went wrong in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster when a well blew up in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and spewing 200 million gallons of oil. The spill killed countless marine animals and exposed Gulf Coast residents to toxins. Serious environmental damage continues to this day.

Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review the safety rules in April.

Environmentalists blasted the proposed changes.

Miyoko Sakashita, director of the oceans program at the Center for Biological Diversity, called the changes “willful ignorance.” By “tossing aside the lessons from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Trump is putting our coasts and wildlife at risk of more deadly oil spills,” she said in a statement.

The proposed regulations will be published in the Federal Register on Friday. The public will have 30 days to comment before new rules are put in place.

The move comes a week after the Interior Department and BSEE abruptly pulled the plug on a safety study of offshore drilling by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Just weeks ago, the Trump administration greenlighted exploratory drilling operations in Arctic waters, which one environmentalist called a “boneheaded decision by a reckless administration.”

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