Protecting Our Coast—Congressman Price Issues Statement on House Passage of Offshore Drilling Safety Amendment
WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 11, 2019)– Today, Wednesday, September 11, 2019, Congressman David Price (D-NC), issued the following statement regarding House passage of H.R. 205: The Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act. Congressman Price co-authored an offshore drilling safety amendment to codify two of the common-sense safety regulations implemented after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. These two rules, dealing with production safety systems and well control, have been rolled back by the Administration to minimize the oil and gas industry’s safety obligations.
“Deepwater Horizon was the largest oil spill in American history and the second largest in the world,” said Congressman Price. The Trump administration’s proposal to roll back key safety regulations puts all of the nation’s coastlines at risk of another Deepwater Horizon level catastrophe. This amendment puts the interests of American workers, coastal communities, and marine wildlife first, rather than prioritizing the pocketbooks of large oil corporations. It would ensure that carefully crafted regulations are protected from arbitrary executive actions that would seek to undermine safety and jeopardize our environment. I take pride in North Carolina’s beautiful and abundant coast, and I will continue to do everything I can in Congress to protect all 300 miles of the North Carolina coastline. I am extremely pleased that this legislation passed the House of Representatives, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to take it up without delay.”
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion led to the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Eleven workers lost their lives and 4.9 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico. BP has paid out more than $65 billion in claims and clean-up costs since that time with the total impact of damages still unknown.
In the wake of this disaster, several regulations aimed at better governing the oil and gas industry to protect workers and our coastal communities were put into place. This includes the Production Safety Systems Rule, requiring safety and pollution prevention equipment to be inspected by independent auditors certified by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and the Well Control Rule, requiring BSEE to confirm that the amount of pressure drillers propose to use in a new well is “safe,” thus reducing the risk of blowouts such as the one that caused the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
On Thursday, May 2, 2019, the Trump Administration finalized changes to the Well Control Rule that will reduce the frequency of tests to key equipment while also allowing drillers to use third-party companies, instead of government inspectors, to check equipment, with more time in between inspections. Meanwhile, changes to the Production Safety Systems Rule were finalized in September 2018 and eliminate third party certification of devices, as well as modify reporting requirements for equipment failures. The amendment would preserve these two rules in their original form.