Rep. Grijalva: Offshore Drilling Agency Needs to Live Up to Its Name and Hold Drillers Accountable

Washington, D.C. – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report today reaffirming Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva’s (D-Ariz.) position that stronger oversight of offshore oil and gas development is critical to preventing another Deepwater Horizon-type disaster. The report states that the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is failing to meet key environmental stewardship and drilling oversight goals.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s hearing on the new GAO report began today at 2 p.m. Here’s a link to the complete report: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-293.

“The GAO report confirms what I’ve been saying all along – offshore drilling is too risky and puts our wildlife and oceans in danger if another Deepwater Horizon-like spill happens again,” Grijalva said. “The agency has ‘environmental enforcement’ in its name, so it should be holding drillers fully accountable for their pollution, but this report indicates that may not be the case. This is particularly troubling given the new Administration’s stated goals of expanding drilling and repealing regulations, which would just put our oceans and coastlines at even greater risk. ”

GAO initially put DOI management of federal oil and gas resources on the High Risk List following the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2011. In 2013, GAO said it was satisfied with progress that had been made in restructuring the former Minerals Management Service into BSEE and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, but a 2016 GAO report requested by Ranking Member Grijalva found that BSEE “has not fully addressed deficiencies in its investigative, environmental compliance, and enforcement capabilities identified by investigations after the Deepwater Horizon incident.” GAO put DOI oil and gas management back on the High Risk List in February, saying that in some areas BSEE is still using “pre-Deepwater Horizon policies and procedures.” 

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