: The Trump administration is proposing to roll back parts of a landmark offshore drilling safety regulation that was written in response to the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The rule, dubbed the Well Control Rule, was put into place in 2016. Its standards focus on blowout preventer systems, the emergency systems that offshore oil and natural gas drillers have on hand for when something goes wrong with drilling and operators lose control of the well. That happened in the BP spill, causing an explosion that killed 11 workers and an 87-day uncontrolled oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The announcement came Friday, a week after the eighth anniversary of the explosion.

The Well Control Rule was the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s response to the disaster.

The oil industry and its allies, including most congressional Republicans, have long complained that parts of the rule were unnecessarily burdensome and sought to have them overturned. Many of those provisions would be undone with the Trump proposal.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) argues that it is making changes that ease burdens on drillers — saving them $946 million over 10 years — without at all compromising safety.


Who is for it:

— Erik Milito, director of upstream operations for the American Petroleum Institute:

“BSEE’s decision to revise its technically flawed Well Control Rule will help to strengthen safer offshore operations… These revisions will move us forward on safety, help the government better regulate risks and better protect workers and the environment.”

–Randall Luthi, president of the National Offshore Industries Association: “As written, the existing rule is flawed with technical deficiencies and ambiguities that detract from safe operations…BSEE’s proposed revisions to the WCR will enhance safety and decrease risk offshore.”


Who is against it:

–Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.): “This administration wants to turn a blind eye to history just to help their friends in the oil industry. We can’t let that happen. These rules were put in place to prevent another massive oil spill off our coasts. We can’t allow this new administration to take us backwards in time and, once again, expose Florida’s beautiful beaches and tourism-based economy to such an unnecessary risk.”

–Senate Energy and Natural Resources Ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.): “After over $65 billion of damage and bipartisan Congressional oversight hearings on the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, new protections were put in place to make sure this type of disaster never happened again. Today Interior is trying to ignore those protections. They are creating an unbelievable liability for taxpayers by ignoring safety.”

–House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.): “Republicans have decided the federal government’s job is doing expensive favors for oil and gas companies. This administration’s obsession with more drilling and fewer regulations, whatever the cost, is the same attitude that produced Deepwater Horizon in the first place. The industry needs stronger oversight, especially as we drill new wells off our coastlines. This administration offers the exact opposite.”

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