Trump Administration Official Faces Congressional Grilling Over Offshore Drilling Waivers

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A Trump Administration official faced a tough grilling on Capitol Hill last week, as lawmakers on the House Natural Resources Committee continued to question hundreds of offshore drilling waivers granted in recent years.

The waivers allow drillers to evade key components of the Well Control Rule, a set of regulations inspired by the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that tragically killed 11 offshore workers, injured 17 others, and devastated the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.

The Offshore Injury Lawyers at Zehl & Associates won highly-favorable settlements for 5 of the workers injured aboard the Deepwater Horizon platform.

BSEE Approved Nearly 1,700 Well Control Waivers

According to Politico, the U.S Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) approved nearly 1,700 Well Control waivers from July 2016 through March 2018.

The majority apparently permit offshore drillers to avoid strict testing and inspection requirements for blowout preventers that avert the uncontrolled release of oil and gas from a well. The failure of its blowout preventer was a major cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

The Bureau never made any of these Well Control waivers public.

BSEE Hasn’t Complied with Well Control Waiver Information Request

Democrats on the House Natural Resource Committee want to know how many offshore drilling waivers the Bureau approved before and after the Well Control Rule took effect. So far, however, the BSEE has not complied with their written demand for documents.

Committee members reiterated that demand last Wednesday, when Doug Morris, chief of the BSEE’s offshore regulatory program, appeared at a hearing convened by the subcommittee on minerals and energy. Nevertheless, he would not commit to providing the documents, and only promised to bring the request “back to the office. “

“It has dumbfounded our entire delegation after we put these rules in place to see them shredded to Swiss cheese right now,” Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., told Morris. “In the meantime, the administration has a duty to comply with current rules to make sure we don’t see 1,700 exemptions that could fail to protect Florida and other Gulf states from another BP oil spill.”

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