Markey Report: Americans Still at Risk from Dangerous Offshore Drilling Practices

Oil Companies Suffering Safety Lapses Three Years After BP Spill, Data Show; Congressman Asks EPA to Continue BP Debarment from Federal Contracts

WASHINGTON (May 10, 2013) – A new report, released today by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), shows that oil and gas companies drilling offshore in the Gulf of Mexico continue to suffer major safety lapses three years after the BP spill and that penalties are still insufficient to deter risky practices. 

The report, prepared by Rep. Markey's staff on the Natural Resources Committee, analyzes data from the Department of the Interior (DOI)—including company-by-company data, which has not been publicly disclosed before—to assess progress over the last three years, comparing accidents, inspections, safety violations and civil penalties before and after BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster.

“Oil and gas companies with the worst safety records in the Gulf before the BP disaster continue to spill oil, lose control of their wells and rack up safety violations today,” said Rep. Markey, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. “We need to make sure these companies change their ways and pay a price for their risky practices. Unfortunately, House Republicans have blocked legislation to strengthen regulatory enforcement and raise penalties for offshore safety violations.”

Rep. Markey also sent letters today to BP and the Environmental Protection Agency expressing displeasure that BP has refused to provide information and documents related to the company’s guilty plea of obstructing Congress. Rep. Markey asks EPA not to lift BP’s debarment from receiving federal contracts until the company has provided the requested documents. 

“First, BP lied to Congress when I asked for information about the amount of oil being spilled into the Gulf,” Rep. Markey said. “Now, BP won’t provide me information about why company officials lied. Until it comes clean and cleans up its act, the government should not be in business with BP.”

The data in the report -- “Dangerous Drillers: Offshore Safety Lapses Continue Three Years After BP Spill” -- show some positives. The number of injuries from offshore accidents is down 50 percent over the last two years, as DOI has been more aggressive in handing out violations, and companies have less frequently lost control of their wells -- as happened in the BP spill -- since DOI adopted stronger regulations in 2010 following the catastrophic blowout at BP's Macondo well.

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