The Fox is Back on Guard Duty
The Trump Administration is doing everything it can to encourage and assist the oil and gas industry. The policies that grab headlines are those that involve drilling in the Arctic and along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. However, the Trump policy includes relaxing safety standards intended to protect the environment and offshore workers.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement enacts and enforces rules and regulations pertaining to offshore drilling. Under Trump the agency is headed by Scott Angelle, an industry insider from Louisiana.
Following the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, President Obama strengthened safety rules with very good reason. It was the worst disaster in the history of the oil and gas industry and its environmental impacts are still unfolding.
As with so many things done in the Obama Administration, President Trump intends to go in the opposite direction. This includes rolling back the Well Control Rule, which was enacted on the basis of a bipartisan commission which investigated the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident.
One of the pities of this rollback is that it is based upon the false premise that you can’t simultaneously have safety and development. Another is that major oil companies are not as active offshore as in the past because of economics rather than the hindrance of safety regulations. The facts are that oil companies are focusing on developing their major oil fields onshore because it is more profitable, not because of offshore safety regulations. For more about this, see the Business section of the Houston Chronicle for 5/1/18.
Will we ever learn the painful lessons of the past?
Photo Credit: C Morrison