Trump administration looks to pare back offshore drilling regs

The Trump administration on Friday proposed to rewrite or end rules on offshore oil and gas drilling imposed after the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The administration said the rules are an unnecessary burden on the industry and rolling them back will encourage more energy production, The Associated Press reported.

An offshore-drilling group welcomed the rollback, while environmentalists said President Trump was raising the risk of more deadly oil spills, Kallanish Energy learns.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement published the proposed change Friday in the Federal Register. The public will have until Jan. 29 to comment.

The Obama administration imposed tougher rules in response to the 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon and contracted to BP. The accident killed 11 workers and triggered a massive oil spill.

The Obama rules targeted blowout preventers; the preventer used by BP failed. The rules required more frequent inspections of those and other devices and dictated experts onshore monitor drilling of highly complex wells in real time, AP reported.

In its notice Friday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said some provisions in the rules created "potentially unduly burdensome requirements" on oil and gas operators "without significantly increasing safety of the workers or protection of the environment," AP reported.

The bureau said that, when practical, it would give industry flexibility to meet safety and equipment standards rather than insisting on specific compliance methods.

The agency estimated that revising some rules and removing others would save the energy industry at least $228 million over 10 years.

Oil industry groups have complained about the potential cost of complying with the rules and predicted they would threaten thousands of jobs.

Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, said in a statement the Trump administration's rollback was a step toward regulatory reform.

But Miyoko Sakashita, ocean-program director for environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, said rolling back drilling-safety standards was a recipe for disaster.

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