Trump Orders Easing Safety Rules Implemented After Gulf Oil Spill


On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump repeatedly vowed to open up vast swaths of American lands and waters to oil and gas drilling, which he has touted as a major job creator. Mr. Zinke said that the review process did not guarantee that all those areas would be opened up to drilling, but noted that they would come under review.

“There’s no set goal. But if there’s areas that are acceptable, that have resources, and local communities are for it and states are for it we could include it in next five-year plan,” Mr. Zinke said in a conference call with reporters.

The order also appears designed to roll back a permanent ban placed by President Barack Obama on offshore drilling off some portions of the Atlantic and Alaskan coasts, but that move is expected to be met with immediate legal challenges.

Friday’s order will also direct Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary — who has jurisdiction over marine sanctuaries — to conduct a review of all such sanctuaries created over the past 10 years, and not to create any new sanctuaries during that review period.

The most likely targets of that review will be major protected marine parks created or enlarged by Mr. Obama. Last year, Mr. Obama created the largest marine sanctuary on the planet, enlarging the boundaries of the Papahanaumokuakea park near Hawaii.

Also last year, the Obama administration unveiled a set of regulations on offshore oil and gas drilling equipment, intended to tighten the safety requirements on underwater drilling equipment and well-control operations. In particular, the new rules tighten controls on blowout preventers, the industry-standard devices that are the last line of protection to stop explosions in undersea oil and gas wells.

The 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig was caused in part by the buckling of a section of drill pipe, prompting the malfunction of a supposedly fail-safe blowout preventer on a BP well.

It appears that those rules may be targeted in Mr. Trump’s new order. But when questioned on which specific equipment regulations would be reviewed, Mr. Zinke simply replied that the review would apply ”from bow to stern.”

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Source: New York Times



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