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Offshore Agency Shifts its Mission and Abandons Safety Regulations, as Trump Administration Pushes for “Energy Dominance”

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A disturbing report suggests that the federal agency charged with ensuring the safety of offshore drilling in the United States has shifted its focus since Donald Trump assumed the presidency, and is now actively working to promote the very industry it was created to regulate.

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) was established by the Obama Administration 7 years ago, following the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers, injured dozens of others, and produced the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

The BSEE was one of three regulatory agencies created by the break-up of the scandal-plagued Minerals Management Service (MMS), which had long been the target of criticism for its cozy relationship with the offshore drilling industry.

BSEE Targeting Offshore Safety Regulations in Bid for “Energy Dominance”

Scott Angelle, the current head of the BSEE, is well-known as an industry advocate.

Since assuming his position, Angele has asserted that the Obama Administration’s regulatory response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster was too broad. He also maintains that his agency can “actually increase domestic energy production and increase safety and environmental protection.”

Not surprisingly, the BSEE indicated last month that it would curtail certain Obama-era regulations that were intended to reduce the risk of well explosions like the one that led to the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.

According to a report that recently aired on CNN, the changes are intended to help the Trump Administration reach its goal of “energy dominance.”

Trump Administration Decision to Allow Drilling Off Florida, California Coasts Alarms Both Experts and Allies

Last Thursday, the Trump Administration announced its intention to end the Obama Administration’s ban on new drilling off the coast of California and Florida.

The decision to open all federal waters to drilling, coupled with the recent changes at the BSEE, has many experts alarmed.

“It shows just how short our memories can be about the devastating consequences of the Deepwater Horizon accident,” Jason Bordoff, a Columbia University professor and former Obama energy official, told CNN.

Even Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, has expressed concerns about the push to expand offshore drilling – at least so far as it impacts his state.

“Based on media reports, it is likely that the Department of the Interior will consider Florida as a potential state for offshore oil drilling – which is something I oppose in Florida,” Scott said in a statement released last week.

“I have already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration.”

Offshore Safety Purge Part of Year-Long War on Regulations

The Trump Administration has been waging a war on regulations since the President took office last January.

Among other things, the U.S. Department of the Interior has mulled bringing back the much-derided MMS.

Just last month, the Interior Department halted a study aimed at improving the way the BSEE conducts safety inspections of offshore drilling operations.

Under Trump, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency delayed enforcement of the Chemical Disaster Rule, which was intended to reduce the risk of deadly plant and refinery explosions.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also recently abandoned a proposed rule that was aimed at preventing plant explosions and fires associated with combustible dust.

Trump Administration officials have even considered eliminating the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which is charged with investigating chemical explosions, despite its well-regarded reputation even among industry advocates.

Having recovered more than $1 billion for our clients, including hundreds of workers injured or killed aboard the Deepwater Horizon and other offshore oil and gas drilling rigs, our Undefeated Maritime Lawyers have the resources and skills needed to ensure that you and your family are fully compensated for all of your injuries and damages.

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