Today, the Trump Administration issued an executive order aimed at opening new areas to offshore oil and gas leasing and weakening oversight rules of oil and gas exploration.
“This new executive order directly targets many of the key protections that were put in place after the BP drilling disaster to prevent future catastrophes,” said Raleigh Hoke, Campaign Director with Gulf Restoration Network. “Rolling back existing safety protections while opening new areas to offshore drilling is a recipe for disaster. This order puts people and wildlife at risk.”
In addition to directing federal agencies to explore opening new areas like the Atlantic, the order calls for the reconsideration of the “Well Control Rule.” When considering this rule, the Bureau of Safety And Environmental Enforcement said that it “addresses key recommendations made after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, closes gaps in existing requirements, and updates BSEE regulations to reflect industry best practices.”
The order also directs federal agencies to reconsider rules for offshore air pollution, and protections for whales and dolphins from underwater seismic explosions used to search for oil and gas.
These changes come at a time when offshore oil and gas exploration and production continues to cause significant damage in the Gulf of Mexico region while companies are rarely held accountable for spills and accidents.
"Recently there have been more large spills in the Gulf," said Scott Eustis, GRN’s Coastal Wetland Specialist. "But even the large spills don't seem to incur fines -- like Shell's Glider leak and Hilcorp's spills in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay. Our government must do more to hold these companies accountable. Our coasts need the government’s protection, not bigger and more frequent oil and gas disasters."