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Trump’s Government Shutdown Delays Proposals to Expand Offshore Drilling

President Trump’s government shut down is undermining his administration’s plans to expand offshore drilling and weaken key safety regulations inspired by the deadly Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig explosion.

Offshore Proposal Would Allow Drilling in Nearly All U.S. Waters

The U.S. Department of Interior planned to release a 5-year offshore leasing proposal on January 15th.

Reportedly, that proposal would significantly increase offshore drilling along the United States’ coast by allowing  new lease sales in nearly all federal waters, including the Atlantic, Arctic, and eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Thanks to Trump’s shutdown, however, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has just 85 employees assisting with permitting operations, administrative services, or emergency response.

What’s more, all but 9 are available on an on-call basis.

Because of a lack of personnel, the Bureau will not be processing or reviewing new offshore exploration and development plans until the government reopens, thus delaying the lease proposal indefinitely.

Trump’s Weakened Well Control Rule Stalled by Shutdown

The Interior Department has also delayed enactment of  a severely-weakened Well Control Rule, which regulates blowout preventers and other vital safety equipment aboard offshore platforms.

The Obama Administration only finalized the Well Control Rule in 2016. The regulations are intended to prevent a repeat of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, which tragically killed 11 offshore workers, injured dozens of others, and devastated the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.

According to, the White House began reviewing the revised Well Control Rule on December 13th

Because of the shutdown, however, the federal government furloughed the employees from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs tasked with that review.

Like the drilling lease proposal, the weakened Well Control Rule has been delayed indefinitely.

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