The Trump administration relaxed offshore drilling rules on 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.”
The Department of the Interior under former President Barack Obama finalized the new rules in 2016 shortly before President Donald Trump won election. After Trump took office, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), an Interior agency, issued nearly 1,700 waivers for Deepwater Horizon-related regulations over a 20-month period, Politico reported in February.
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 An elevated number of waivers being issued is a signal that the regulations in place may be outdated, National Ocean Industries Association President Randall Luthi told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email in February.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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