Safety is already the top priority for the US oil and gas industry

I agree with Jackie Savitz and Oceana that safety should be the top priority for offshore oil drilling (“It’s time to make offshore drilling safer,” April 8, The Hill’s Contributors Blog). However, she is wrong to imply that is not currently the No. 1 priority or that little has been done to improve safety since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy. Over the past six years, the oil and gas industry has put sweeping new safety procedures and equipment in place and has worked closely with federal regulators to develop effective new offshore safety regulations.

Ms. Savitz also states that the well control rule proposed by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is not perfect. I agree. We have to get it right. That is why the industry diligently attempted to help the BSEE get the rule right, repeatedly voicing concerns about possible unintended consequences of the rule that could lead to less safety and less environmental protection. The final rule was recently released, and many concerns have been addressed.

{mosads}The truth is that accessing our offshore oil and natural gas resources is safer now than ever, even before the well control becomes effective. As the co-chairs of the national spill commission formed after Deepwater Horizon said in April 2014, “Offshore drilling is safer than it was four years ago” because industry and the government have enhanced spill prevention, containment and response, revised existing standards and regulations and created new ones, and worked hard to foster a strong industry safety culture.

The industry has established the Center for Offshore Safety, which works with the regulatory community to make sure that the latest advances in safety technologies and practices are shared throughout the industry and across the country. New containment and gathering systems also stand ready to deploy at a moment’s notice in the event of a future spill, and coordination among public and private entities has been vastly improved. The industry shares the government’s goal of enhancing offshore safety while producing more oil and natural gas here at home. Safety is not an abstract concept to the men and women of America’s oil and gas industry. Nothing is more important than safety; our livelihoods, the communities where we live and work, and the lives of our colleagues depend on it. 

Deepwater Horizon was an important lesson — one the industry will continue to heed.

From Randall Luthi, president, National Ocean Industries Association, Arlington, Va.


Obama’s ISIS inaction continues to put American lives in danger

For about two years, we have been hearing that we will contain and destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). After two years of ISIS growing, it’s certainly not contained. Thousands of people have been killed, by bombings, beheadings, burning — are we now beginning to understand that our president is demonstrating zero intent to defeat ISIS? 

We have had numerous American citizens killed, from our own nation through the Benghazi attacks, and our president is still touting his 60-nation coalition as an effective tool. Even more sadly, we have some presidential candidates continuing to support Obama’s inactions. When former President George W. Bush decided to remove Saddam Hussein in Iraq, his 34-nation coalition got it done in about a month. Like him, or not, he did what he said he would do, and he did it quickly. In contrast, Obama has yet to live up to his election slogan, “Yes, we can.” We are all at risk because of his bold, but meaningless, words.

From Tom Tyschper, Gilbert, Ariz.

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