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AGs Oppose Ditching Drilling Safety Protections Established After Deepwater Horizon Disaster

6 AGs submit comments to Interior against rollback of regulations for offshore oil and gas production

January 30, 2018
Contact: stateimpactcenter@nyu.edu

Washington, D.C.— Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh today led a coalition of six state attorneys general in filing comments opposing the Department of the Interior's proposal to scrap safety measures implemented for offshore oil and gas production in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion off the Gulf Coast. 

“The Deepwater Horizon oil explosion caused substantial and lasting harm to the environment,” said Attorney General Frosh. “But the lives lost are the most tragic and permanent result of that incident. Rolling back safety protections less than two years after implementation is wrong and jeopardizes human and environmental safety.”

“The state attorneys general are particularly critical of Interior’s decision to jettison third party certification of key underwater drilling equipment – a needed practice that could have prevented the Deepwater Horizon disaster,” said David J. Hayes, executive director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. "State attorneys general know that independent reviews, and the sharing of key data with regulators, are necessary checks on unsafe practices in high-risk situations. Rolling back these obligations is reckless, especially as the Trump Administration seeks to vastly expand offshore drilling.” 

“The risks of offshore drilling were made painfully clear by disasters like Deepwater Horizon,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “These risks – to human lives and to our natural resources – are not theoretical; they are concrete, enduring, and profound. To roll back the very safety protections put in place after Deepwater Horizon is deeply irresponsible – and unlawful.”

In addition to Maryland, the comments were submitted to the Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) by the attorneys general of Maine; Massachusetts; New York; North Carolina; and Virginia. 

According the Attorney General Frosh's office, "The 2016 regulatory revisions took effect on November 7, 2016. When BSEE issued those revisions, it noted that changes were 'necessary to improve human safety, environmental protection, and regulatory oversight of critical equipment involving production safety systems,' and were “'intended to improve worker safety and protection of marine and coastal ecosystems by helping to reduce the number of production-related incidents resulting in oil spills, injuries, and fatalities.' Scarcely a year later, at the same time the Department is proposing expanding offshore drilling operations, BSEE has proposed another significant overhaul of the production safety systems regulations."

ABOUT THE STATE IMPACT CENTER: The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center is a non-partisan Center at the NYU School of Law that is dedicated to helping state attorneys general fight against regulatory rollbacks and advocate for clean energy, climate change, and environmental values and protections. It was launched in August 2017 with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. For more information, visit http://www.law.nyu.edu/centers/state-impact.