On April 2, 2010, President Obama said, “Oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced.” Eighteen days later the Deepwater Horizon explosion killed eleven crew members and leaked oil into the Gulf of Mexico for months. To his credit, after the tragedy, he tightened safety regulations on those rigs, including the area that might be at the heart of the explosion, the blowout preventer.
What is a blowout preventer?
A very large piece of equipment, a blowout preventer (BOP) is designed to seal, control and monitor oil and natural gas wells. When it is working properly it should prevent the uncontrolled release of crude oil and gas. BOPs are used with onshore drilling as well as offshore drilling, but there is one huge difference. The ones used by offshore drilling are deep at the bottom of the ocean. In the event of an emergency, such as the Deepwater Horizon, they are nearly impossible to access.
Safety Then and Now
President Obama put into place regulations that required offshore rigs to test their BOPs every
14 days for 30 minutes. Recently, things have changed and not for the benefit of the marine environment or for those living on the coasts of America. Here is what has changed:
- BOP testing must now occur every 21 days for five minutes.
- Companies no longer need to report test results to the Interior Department.
- It is no longer required that an independent expert approved by the Interior Department verify the safety measures of equipment used in offshore rigs.
- It is no longer required that drilling operators provide real-time data from wells to onshore observers.
Onshore oil operations are highly regulated by local, state and federal authorities. Response time to any accident is immediate, and any impact is tightly contained. Offshore operations have basically been handed the reigns of self-regulation. History proves time and again that this is never a good idea. That is why offshore drilling is opposed by:
- 200 municipalities
- 1,200 local officials
- 40,000 coastal business
Offshore drilling is bad for our coasts and our coastal waters. Onshore drilling is safer for the environment and is a boost to local and global economies. Keep America safe and oppose offshore drilling.