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Trump Administration Approves New Deepwater Well Permits, As Efforts to Gut Offshore Safety Regulations Continue

Louisiana Maritime Lawyer | Texas Maritime Attorney

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has approved dozens of new deepwater well permits this year, even as it continues efforts to radically increase offshore drilling off the coast of the United States.

15 Offshore Drilling Permits Approved in April, 35 This Year Alone

The Bureau approved 15 deepwater well permits in April alone.

At least 35 new permits have been approved so far this year, twice as many as compared to the same period last year.

Rig activity in the Gulf of Mexico has been steadily rising, with 46 units operating since May, the highest level in two years.

The Trump Administration has been quite open about its plans to ramp up drilling in the Gulf and elsewhere. Since the President took office, the BSEE – created in response to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion – has even shifted its focus from regulation to the active promotion of offshore drilling.

BSEE Regulatory Purge Targets “Well Control Rule”

In April, the Bureau formally announced plans to roll-back a group of Obama Era regulations intended to prevent another Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The announcement was made on April 27th, just days after the Gulf Coast marked the 8th anniversary of the deadly explosion.

The rollback specifically targets the “Well Control Rule,” which sets standards for the blowout preventer systems that are used aboard offshore drilling platforms to prevent the uncontrolled release of oil from a well.

A defective blowout preventer was identified as one of the main causes of the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

“More Drilling and Less Regulation is a Recipe for Disaster”

The BSEE will continue to solicit public comments on the proposed Well Control Rule changes until July 10th.

Bureau director Scott Angelle  maintains that reducing offshore regulations will save drillers millions without compromising safety.

“We believe that by focusing on safety without lessening safety or environmental safeguards, we have produced the kind of public policy that is good for America, is good for energy security and is good for economic security,” he said in April.

However, critics fear that these recent efforts will prove costly to offshore workers and the environment.

“Last week marked eight years since BP’s exploratory Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded,” Diane Hoskins, campaign director at the marine protection organization Oceana, said in reaction to the BSEE’s April announcement. “Reversing the few safety measures put in place – as a response to that disaster— is unacceptable and does not make sense. More drilling and less safety is a recipe for disaster.”

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