Tampa Bay Reporter
January 27, 2018
The bill, which he plans to introduce Monday (Jan. 29), is designed to make sure offshore oil drilling is done as safely as possible. If passed, two safety rules would become law.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-CA, and David E. Price, D-NC, will introduce the Safe Coasts, Oceans, and Seaside Towns Act to codify two safety regulations implemented after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion.
These common-sense two rules, dealing with production safety systems and well control, have been targeted by Trump Administration attempts to minimize the oil and gas industry’s safety obligations, Crist said.
The bill, set to be introduced Monday (Jan. 29), has already received wide support from environmental and coastal community business groups, including endorsements from Oceana, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast, California League of Conservation Voters, and the Animal Welfare Institute.
“I was Florida’s Governor when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The full extent of the environmental and economic damages of this tragedy are still unknown,” Crist said. “We should learn from past mistakes, not hand over the fate of our coasts and oceans to the oil and gas industry. These rules are vital to protecting our coastal communities from preventable disasters.”
Barragán said, “At a time when nearly all of America’s coastal waters have been placed on the table for increased oil and gas drilling, the Trump Administration has simultaneously taken steps to ease regulations such as these that govern the oil and gas industry,. This would be an enormous mistake. Loosening these regulations increases the risk of a devastating oil spill, and threatens to upend the many thriving fishing, tourism, and recreation economies along the Pacific coast. Our bill ensures that safety regulators are not tasked with the concerns of promoting oil and gas development, and that corporate profits are not prioritized ahead of the health and safety of our coastal economies.”
Price added, “Although the disaster at Deepwater Horizon occurred only eight years ago, the oil and gas industry and their allies in Washington remain intent on undermining the very regulations designed to prevent a future environmental catastrophe of its kind. Our legislation puts the interests of American workers, coastal communities, and marine wildlife first, rather than prioritizing the pocketbooks of large oil corporations. It would ensure that carefully crafted regulations are protected from arbitrary executive actions that would seek to undermine safety and jeopardize our environment.”
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion led to the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Eleven workers lost their lives and 4.9 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico. BP has paid out more than $65 billion in claims and clean-up costs since that time with the total impact of damages still unknown.
In the wake of this disaster, several regulations aimed at better governing the oil and gas industry to protect workers and our coastal communities were put into place. This includes the production safety systems rule, requiring safety and pollution prevention equipment be inspected by independent auditors certified by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the well control rule, requiring BSEE to confirm that the amount of pressure drillers propose to use in a new well is “safe,” thus reducing the risk of blowouts such as the one that caused the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
The Safe COAST Act would preserve these same two rules, which the Trump Administration has proposed rolling back in an attempt to return to a more permissive regulatory era, Crist said.
Crist represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District, which includes south and mid-Pinellas County.