Grijalva and Lowenthal Question BSEE’s Rewrite of Critical Offshore Oil and Gas Safety Rules

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, sent a letter late on Friday to Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke questioning Department proposals that would modify two offshore safety rules. The rules were developed by the Obama administration’s Interior Department, based on recommendations from National Academy of Sciences and academia, and discussions with industry and environmentalists, in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The two rules fall under the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). The   Production Safety Systems rule, in part requires third-parties to review and verify that safety and pollution prevention equipment function as designed. Zinke’s proposed rule would eliminate this requirement. In addition, news reports indicate that BSEE’s rewrite of the Well Control Rule would weaken several provisions related to blowout preventer capacity, inspection, reporting and testing. The letter states, in part:

“While the Interior Department under the previous Administration responded to the Deepwater Horizon with carefully crafted rules developed with a safety-first mindset and input from all stakeholders, BSEE’s recent actions would be a significant step backwards from efforts to improve the safety culture of offshore operators. Additionally, there appear to be few, if any, good reasons for making the proposed changes, which would undermine the current offshore safety rules.”

“In light of the news from Friday morning’s subcommittee hearing that the entire Pacific, Gulf, Arctic and Atlantic regions – including Florida – are still open for oil and gas leasing, Interior’s efforts to strip existing offshore safety regulations are even more troubling and reckless than before,” Grijalva stated.

The complete letter can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/2DwwzBC.

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