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Proposal to Roll Back Post-BP Oil Spill Safety Measures Puts Workers, Environment and Public at Risk

Jan. 29, 2018

Proposal to Roll Back Post-BP Oil Spill Safety Measures Puts Workers, Environment and Public at Risk

Statement of Shanna Devine, Worker Health and Safety Advocate, Public Citizen

Note: The U.S. Department of the Interior proposed a rule to roll back safety regulations put into place after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill that killed 11 people and devastated communities and ecosystems along the Gulf Coast. Public Citizen’s Worker Health and Safety Advocate Shanna Devine today submitted comments to the Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement (BSEE) opposing the rulemaking proposal.

Public Citizen opposes the proposal to remove the critical safety protections put into place after the BP disaster. We are particularly concerned that the proposal would replace independent inspections of safety devices with oil and gas industry-led inspections and safety standards.

This proposal places workers, the environment and the public at risk in exchange for negligible industry savings – and comes as the Trump administration attempts to expand offshore oil and gas drilling operations.

The Department of Interior, Chemical Safety Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), and House Energy and Commerce Committee concluded that mechanical errors and equipment failures contributed to the BP disaster. The CSB also warned of present-day risks associated with offshore drilling. The New York Times in 2010 reported that many workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig were concerned about safety practices but feared retribution for whistleblowing, and nearly eight years later offshore oil and gas workers still do not have anti-retaliation rights.

Recent history has shown that this proposal would harm the public, government and industry. It also shows that the government is not prepared to respond to the next disaster and that the industry is not capable of regulating itself. The BSEE must not allow this rulemaking proposal to advance.