Trump officials ease offshore safety rule

Trump officials ease offshore safety rule
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The Trump administration moved Thursday to ease provisions of a key safety rule for oil and natural gas production from wells drilled offshore, saying some of the Obama-era standards were unnecessarily burdensome on companies.

The rollbacks from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) focus on safety requirements for the period when an offshore platform is producing oil and natural gas, instead of the drilling process.

It’s part of the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda, through which President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE is seeking to boost domestic production of fossil fuels and other forms of energy, mainly by easing regulatory burdens.

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The rollback will save industry $13 million per year, BSEE said, without sacrificing safety or going against any of the recommendations that grew out of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and spill.

“BSEE has incorporated industry innovation, best science and best practices in the Oil and Gas Production Safety Systems Rule to ensure safety and environmental sustainability,” Scott Angelle, BSEE’s director, said in a statement.

“When critical energy resources are produced safely and responsibly, we build a stronger energy future for the nation. We can achieve robust energy production only if operations are conducted in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner.”

Thursday’s action amends a 2016 rule that was not the central regulation written after the BP spill. BSEE has separately proposed to weaken parts of that rule, which it calls the Well Control Rule, as well.

The Thursday rollback removes the mandate that independent third parties certify safety devices for effective operation in the most extreme conditions, allowing oil company employees to examine devices themselves and document the process.

The new regulation also eases notification requirements for companies. For example, they will no longer have to notify BSEE of “false alarms” from safety equipment sensors and only have to inform officials when they start initial oil or gas production at a site, not every time they start production.

BSEE is also updating a dozen standards in the rule to incorporate the latest best practices from industry.

Out of the 484 provisions in the 2016 rule, the Trump administration’s changes only affect 84, BSEE said.

This story was updated at 2:25 p.m.