Energy

Trump Rolls Back Obama-Era Regulations On Offshore Drilling

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter

The Trump administration relaxed offshore drilling rules Thursday put in place after a 2010 oil spill that released millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Obama administration ratcheted up regulations on offshore drilling after the Deepwater Horizon oil well, owned by British Petroleum, failed and spilled over 200 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. Natural gas also leaked, spread to the surface and ignited. Eleven workers died in the explosion.

The “final rule puts safety first, both public and environmental safety, in a common sense way,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement. “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.” (RELATED: Environmental Groups Are Calling On Trump To Ditch Plans To Expand Offshore Drilling)

The Department of the Interior under former President Barack Obama finalized the rules in 2016 shortly before President Donald Trump won the election. After Trump took office, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), an Interior agency, issued about 1,700 waivers for Deepwater Horizon-related regulations over a 20-month period, Politico reported in February.

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this April 21, 2010 file handout image. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this April 21, 2010 file handout image. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard

BSEE has granted waivers to companies that are using procedures that are at least as effective as the regulations instituted by the Obama administration. An elevated number of waivers being issued is a signal the regulations in place might be outdated, National Ocean Industries Association President Randall Luthi told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email in February.

“The Obama administration recognized that there was more than one way to skin a proverbial cat and where a company could prove that an alternative approach is safe and efficient, a waiver could be granted,” Luthi said. “To become unhinged over the Trump Administration granting more waivers than the Obama administration is akin to being surprised there is more daylight after the sun comes up.”

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