Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
The Trump Administration has allowed 1700 “exceptions” to the “Well Control Rule” that the Obama Administration put in place in 2016 to improve drilling safety as a result of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.Today, in a hearing on Capitol Hill, the Interior Department defended these actions saying that the exceptions were granted only if the requester demonstrated that the exception to the rule was equally protective. But documents that POLITICO obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and made public two weeks ago paint a different picture. POLITICO found that the most common waivers were those that allowed drilling companies variances from the tighter rules for blowout preventers, which is the part that failed in the Deepwater Horizon Spill, allowing oil to flow into the Gulf for months. POLITICO also found evidence of numerous troubling exceptions to the rule, including:
The most dangerous were 18 waivers exempting companies from a rule prohibiting rig workers from welding while oil and gas continued to flow through a rig.
192 waivers related to how companies test the cylindrical metal casing that prevents a drilled hole from caving in.
156 waivers related to the amount of cement companies must use in well casings to keep them stable, and how much pressure the cement casings needed to be able to withstand.
Dozens of other waivers were of a requirement that mandates advance notice by companies to a Department of Interior district or regional manager before using equipment or safety procedures not described in the Well Control Rule.
119 waivers lifted the requirement that operators “stop operations as soon as practicable” to evaluate wells that had gone more than 30 days without well casings safety tests.
Why This Matters: “Are these rules becoming meaningless under the Trump administration?” asked Lois Epstein, a civil engineer who focuses on drilling issues for The Wilderness Society. It certainly seems that way. 1,700 requests for anything is a huge number — particularly when those requests must be reviewed by an engineer and determined to be safe before being granted. It is hard to imagine that these waiver requests were given the “hard look” by the Interior Department that they deserved. And this is further evidence of why the Trump Administration’s plan to open the entire U.S. offshore ocean territory for oil and gas drilling is a really bad idea and a disaster waiting to happen. And why even many Republicans from coastal states like Florida and South Carolina oppose the President on this issue.
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Last summer, Florida created its first aquatic preserve in over 30 years. The Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve protects about 400,000 acres of seagrass just north of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf coast. These are part of the Gulf of Mexico’s largest seagrass bed and borders other existing preserves, creating a […]
A new study has found that whale songs can be a powerful tool for mapping the ocean floor. Seismic testing done by humans can harm whales and other marine life, but by using whale songs instead, scientists believe the practice can be adapted to be much less harmful to marine populations.
Why This Matters: For years, the fossil fuel industry has hauled “seismic guns” behind large boats, blasting loud, harmful bursts of sound that disturb sea life and impair the sonar of animals like whales and dolphins.
Much as our national parks on land are some of our greatest natural treasures, marine national monuments safeguard precious ecosystems and protect them now and for future generations. The National Marine Sanctuary System encompasses more than 600,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters, and contains amazing cultural and historical resources, as well as […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.