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Trump Administration Set to Unveil Weakened Offshore Drilling Regulations

The Trump administration is moving forward with plans to gut many of the offshore drilling regulations enacted in the wake of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, and could unveil the final rules as early as tomorrow.

Ryan Zehl, a Top Offshore Injury Lawyer, has successfully represented thousands of workers after the worst maritime accidents and explosions in recent history, including the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

New Offshore Drilling Regulations Gut Blowout Preventer Standards

The White House Office of Management and Budget apparently wrapped up its review of the revised offshore drilling regulations on Monday. According to Bloomberg News, the Interior Department will release a final draft of the plan on Thursday morning.

The Deepwater Horizon offshore rig explosion killed 11 workers, injured 17 others, and spilled millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The Obama administration spent the next six years developing stronger offshore drilling regulations in a bid to avoid a repeat of that catastrophe.

Many of the Trump administration’s revisions target standards for blowout preventers, a massive piece of safety equipment that prevents the uncontrolled release of oil and gas from a well. A failed blowout preventer was cited as a major cause of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.

The new regulations, for example, scrap a requirement that federally-approved organizations regularly inspect and certify blowout preventers aboard offshore rigs.  Under Trump’s rules, independent third-parties could carry out the inspections.

Critics Blast Trump’s Offshore Drilling Plans

The Trump administration maintains that the revised offshore drilling regulations will allow more flexibility and save energy companies money. But critics warn that the weakened rules will put workers at risk and endanger the environment.

“The Trump administration is once again putting corporate profits over safety by gutting the primary offshore drilling safety measure put in place to prevent the next massive oil spill,” Amit Narang, a regulatory policy expert at Public Citizen, told Bloomberg. “As the public just saw with the Boeing crashes, letting the offshore drilling industry regulate itself is a recipe for disaster.”

Just last week, the environmental group Oceana reported that offshore drilling remained “dirty and dangerous” nine years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, and warned that already-lax oversight had only grown worse in the Trump era.

“President Trump must drastically reverse course in order to prevent another BP Deepwater Horizon-like disaster,” Diane Hoskins, Oceana’s campaign director, said during an interview with CNN. “We should not be expanding dirty and dangerous offshore drilling to new areas when there’s overwhelming bipartisan opposition.”

Trump’s “Energy First” Agenda Faces Roadblocks

While President Trump’s weakened offshore drilling regulations might be a done deal, his plans to greatly ramp up energy production in the United States have been beset by roadblocks.

In March, for example, a federal judge in Alaska found that Trump had exceeded his authority by signing an executive order to rescind Obama-era restrictions on oil and natural gas drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. The decision was just one of several recent court rulings that threaten to derail the President’s “Energy First” agenda.

Politics have also proven to be an impediment. In fact, the Trump administration reportedly decided to delay its long-touted offshore drilling expansion until after the 2020 election, amid concerns that opposition in coastal states (including the swing state of Florida and the reliably red states of Georgia and South Carolina) could cost the President vital votes.

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