Reps. Price, Barragán, and Crist Announce Offshore Drilling Safety Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 25, 2018) — U.S. Reps. David E. Price (D-North Carolina), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-San Pedro), and Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) are introducing the Safe Coasts, Oceans, and Seaside Towns (COAST) Act to codify two of the commonsense safety regulations implemented after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. In late December, the Trump Administration quietly announced that these two rules, dealing with production safety systems and well control, will soon be altered or eliminated in an attempt to minimize the oil and gas industry’s safety obligations.
The bill, set to be introduced Monday, has already received wide support from environmental and coastal community business groups, including endorsements from Oceana, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast, California League of Conservation Voters, and the Animal Welfare Institute.
“Although the disaster at Deepwater Horizon occurred only eight years ago, the oil and gas industry and their allies in Washington remain intent on undermining the very regulations designed to prevent a future environmental catastrophe of its kind,” said Congressman Price. “Our legislation 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.”
“At a time when nearly all of America’s coastal waters have been placed on the table for increased oil and gas drilling, the Trump Administration has simultaneously taken steps to ease regulations such as these that govern the oil and gas industry,” said Congresswoman Barragán. “This would be an enormous mistake. Loosening these regulations increases the risk of a devastating oil spill, and threatens to upend the many thriving fishing, tourism, and recreation economies along the Pacific coast. Our bill ensures that safety regulators are not tasked with the concerns of promoting oil and gas development, and that corporate profits are not prioritized ahead of the health and safety of our coastal economies.”
“I was Florida’s Governor when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The full extent of the environmental and economic damages of this tragedy are still unknown,” said Congressman Crist. “We should learn from past mistakes, not hand over the fate of our coasts and oceans to oil and gas industry. These rules are vital to protecting our coastal communities from preventable disasters.”
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 to protect workers and coastal communities were put into place. These include the production safety systems rule, requiring safety and pollution prevention equipment 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.
These are the same two rules—currently targeted by oil and gas interests and the Trump Administration in an attempt to undermine safety—that the Safe COAST Act seeks to preserve.