Trump halts funding for offshore drilling safety study
The Trump administration has paused its funding for a major study meant to improve how regulators enforce offshore oil and natural gas drilling safety.
The congressionally chartered National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said Thursday that the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) sent a stop-work order for the study earlier this month.
The National Academies had already gathered a committee of researchers for the study and conducted a meeting on the matter in October.
“The National Academies are grateful to the committee members for their service and disappointed that their important study has been stopped,” it said in a statement.
BSEE told the National Academies that it would decide within 90 days whether to resume funding.
BSEE requested the study in 2016 as part of an ongoing effort to implement lessons learned from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
BSEE spokesman Gregory Julian said the pause will allow the agency to evaluate whether the National Academies study is duplicating efforts already underway to improve its inspections.
“As BSEE moves forward with implementing a risk-based inspection program to strengthen and improve its existing inspection program, the [National Academies] study was paused by BSEE to allow time to ensure that there are no duplicate efforts,” he said.
This is the second time President Trump’s Interior Department has halted a National Academies study. In August, the Office of Surface Mining stopped funding for a study into the potential health effects of people living near mountaintop removal mining operations.
The National Academies said Thursday that it had still not heard from Interior on whether it will resume funding for the mining study.