Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Offshore Drilling Regulation

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

The Trump administration rolled back another Obama-era regulation, rescinding a rule pertaining to the offshore drilling industry.

The Department of the Interior on Thursday announced changes to the 2016 oil and gas production safety systems rule, offshore drilling regulations that were put in place during the Obama administration.

Among the reforms: independent verification of safety equipment and procedures on offshore platforms is no longer mandated; oil companies no longer have to design their equipment to operate in the “most extreme” weather conditions; and the design of some offshore drilling equipment does not have to obtain safety certification from professional engineers.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement outlined all the changes in a 176-page report.

“This rule supports the administration’s objective of facilitating energy dominance by encouraging increased domestic oil and gas production and reducing unnecessary burdens on stakeholders, while ensuring safety and environmental protection,” a portion of the report states.

These soon-to-be-nixed mandates were originally put in place by the Obama White House after the 2010 BP oil disaster that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. While the stricter rules were intended to prevent other offshore drilling accidents, industry representatives have long argued that they were too burdensome and unnecessary.

Thursday’s rule change addresses this fact, adding that the Obama-mandates “created potentially unduly burdensome requirements for oil and natural gas production operators on the Outer Continental Shelf, without meaningfully increasing safety of the workers or protection of the environment.”

The Interior Department’s moves are just the latest in the Trump administration’s ambitious rollback of many Obama-era environmental regulations,  unleashing an “energy first” agenda. President Donald Trump has worked to rescind the Clean Power Plan, Waters of the United States, and has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. The White House earlier in September rescinded a Obama-led methane rule and, on Monday, eliminated a train rule that was established in 2015. (RELATED: Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Train Regulation)

Randall Luthi — the president of the National Ocean Industries Association — hailed the offshore drilling reforms.

“The revisions develop a rule that reduces unnecessary burdens placed on industry, while still maintaining world-class safety and environmental protections,” Luthi said in a statement, according to The New York Times. “We have a rule that is not a safety rollback, but instead incorporates modern technological advances.”

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