The Trump administration has weakened offshore drilling regulations that were mandated after a BP Deepwater Horizon oil platform explosion killed 11 in 2010, causing the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, The Washington Post reports.
Officials said Thursday that the modified Well Control Rule is emblematic of President Donald Trump’s dedication to “facilitating energy dominance” because it reduces burdens for fossil fuel producers, allowing them to produce more domestic gas and oil.
“Today’s final rule puts safety first, both public and environmental safety, in a common sense way,” said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. “Incorporating the best available science, best practices and technological innovations of the past decade, the rule eliminates unnecessary regulatory burdens while maintaining safety and environmental protection offshore.”
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement officials, belonging to a section of the Interior Department that promoted the rule, said that the revisions will save the industry almost a billion dollars over a decade.
But politicians and environmental advocates are concerned about the change’s potential to harm the environment. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill poured roughly 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Last May, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said that it was taking environmental concerns into account when it was developing new, modified versions of the Well Control Rule. The new rule ensures “safety and environmental protection” by striking down a key requirement that pollution prevention and safety tools receive inspection from bureau-certified independent auditors.
Instead, oil companies are encouraged to use “recommended practices” established by the industry—the standard in place prior to the catastrophic oil spill.
The recommended practices are simply that—they make recommendations but don’t require anything,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Nancy Leveson.