Trump seeks to roll back offshore drilling safety standards

Trump seeks to roll back offshore drilling safety standards
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The Trump administration wants to roll back some of a wide-ranging Obama-era regulation that was meant to improve the safety of offshore oil and natural gas drilling.

The proposed rollbacks by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) are meant to help fulfill President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE’s promise to ease regulations on the production of fossil fuels and support his goal of “energy dominance.”

BSEE said the changes would save the oil and gas industry $33 million a year and would not compromise safety, the environment or worker protections.

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The Obama administration rule, written in 2016, integrated some of the lessons learned in the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster at a BP well in the Gulf of Mexico.

But Thursday’s action does not make changes to the well control rule, which was the most significant post-Deepwater Horizon regulatory action. The Trump administration is still reviewing that rule for potential rollbacks or other changes.

“I am confident that this revision of the Production Safety Systems Rule moves us forward toward meeting the administration’s goal of achieving energy dominance without sacrificing safety,” BSEE Director Scott Angelle said in a statement.

“By reducing the regulatory burden on industry, we are encouraging increased domestic oil and gas production while maintaining a high bar for safety and environmental sustainability.”

BSEE said in its proposal industry groups and companies raised concerns or objections that led to the changes.

The most significant changes in Thursday’s proposal would eliminate the requirement for third parties to certify that certain safety equipment can withstand the most extreme conditions and reduce the mandate that certified professional engineers review drawings of all of a driller’s safety equipment.

The third-party certification is unnecessary, BSEE concluded.

“Compliance with the various required standards ... ensures that each device will function in the conditions for which it was designed,” it said in the proposal due to be published in the Federal Register Friday.

As for the review of diagrams by certified engineers, BSEE decided to require that step only for the “most critical documents.”

“This change would reduce the burden on operators by no longer requiring a [professional engineer] to certify as many diagrams and drawings,” it said.

BSEE is accepting comments on the proposal from the public for 30 days.