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Comments to Interior on Offshore Drilling Safety Requirements

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) within the Department of the Interior is tasked with setting safety and environmental standards for offshore oil and gas production and exploration in federal waters. While BSEE updated its safety requirements in 2016, it now proposes to weaken and repeal some of these safety requirements in order to encourage more oil and gas production.

In our comments on the proposed rule, we argue that the agency has failed to provide a reasoned explanation for repealing these requirements, which were part of a comprehensive update to safety regulations that had not been revised since 1988. The agency’s current economic and risk analysis fails to disclose the environmental and social costs of the weaker standards. BSEE should not move forward with the proposed changes unless it can show that the amended rule would deliver net social benefits. In addition, BSEE should publish the full text of its existing and proposed technical standards so that the public has an opportunity to meaningfully participate in the notice and comment process.