President Donald Trump in April ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review a raft of Obama-era safety rules that sought to curb accidents and pollution by oil and gas drillers operating in U.S. waters. The agency on Thursday proposed several changes to those regulations, including scrapping a requirement that operators certify through a third party that their safety devices are functioning properly.
The changes will save companies at least $288 million over 10 years, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
“By reducing the regulatory burden on industry, we are encouraging increased domestic oil and gas production while maintaining a high bar for safety and environmental sustainability,” agency Director Scott A. Angelle said in a statement.
President Obama put the safety rules in place late last year, after six years of analysis following the 2010 BP Plc oil spill, in which a well blew out in the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed changes include revisions to safety system design requirements and equipment failure reporting requirements.
Environmentalists blasted the move, saying it put oceans and wildlife at risk.
“By tossing aside the lessons from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Trump is putting our coasts and wildlife at risk of more deadly oil spills,” Miyoko Sakashita, director of the oceans program at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Reversing offshore safety rules isn’t just deregulation, it’s willful ignorance.”