Democratic News

Jul 18 2018

Cantwell, Colleagues To Zinke: Eroding Key Safety, Environmental Protections Risks Coastal Economy

Senators strongly oppose Administration’s proposed rollback to the Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) led a group of 23 Senators in a letter to Secretary Zinke opposing the Trump Administration’s proposal to rollback the Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control, which is critical to improving the safety of offshore oil and gas operations and protecting our coasts from oil spills.

In the letter, the Senators write, “The Administration’s proposal would erode key safety and environmental protections, which we fear would put our $150 billion dollar American coastal economy at great risk to oil spills.”

“The Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule, which was finalized in 2016, set minimum standards that the oil and gas industry must meet when conducting drilling operations. The move by your Department to undermine those protections is endangering the lives of oil workers, posing a serious threat to the environment, and imposing enormous potential liability on taxpayers by ignoring safety,” said the Senators. “The blowout preventer used by the Deepwater Horizon was found to be a critical failure, precipitating the disaster. Instead of strengthening requirements for blowout preventer systems, the Trump Administration’s proposed rule reduces requirements for the design, operation, testing, maintenance, and inspection of blowout preventer systems.”

Rolling back these critical protections is not only irresponsible, it is dangerous. Your proposed rollback of the Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule is not in the best interest of workers, taxpayers, and the environment. Instead of throwing out common-sense safeguards, we should be working to incorporate more lessons learned from tragedies like Deepwater Horizon to improve safety, oil spill prevention, and response” said the Senators. “We urge you to abandon this proposal to weaken the Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule and instead focus on prioritizing the health and safety of our economy and our environment.”

The letter led by Senator Cantwell was also signed by Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.). 

The full letter can be found here.

###