NJ Senators Condemn Trump Administration’s Weakening of Offshore Drilling Safety Standards

May 08, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both-D-N.J.) ripped the Trump administration for rolling back offshore drilling safety regulations put in place following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 and contaminated Gulf Coast waters and beaches. The senators, along with 16 other cosponsors, also reintroduced the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act that would ban offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration in the Atlantic Ocean.

Last Thursday, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt released the final version of the administration’s Well Control Rule rollback to ease the testing requirements for critical oil rig equipment, such as the blowout preventer, which failed in the Deepwater Horizon spill. Menendez, Booker and several Senate colleagues opposed the rule change when Bernhardt’s predecessor, Ryan Zinke, first proposed it last year.

Bob Deans, director of strategic engagement for the Natural Resources Defense Council, explained, “The well control rule was one of the most important actions we took, as a nation, in response to the BP-style disaster at sea. The rule draws directly from lessons learned from that debacle. It creates tools to help reduce the risk of these dangerous industrial operations at sea.”

“By significantly weakening the well control rule – the one modest safety reform created after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy – the administration is willfully ignoring the lessons of the past and putting our shore communities at greater risk of a catastrophic oil spill,” said Menedez. “The only solution left is to outright ban offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic.”

Menendez is also cosponsoring the West Coast Ocean Protection Act led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to ban offshore drilling in the Pacific.

“Together, with coastal communities, local businesses, the fishing industry and elected officials of both parties at all levels of government, we’re united in sending a message to the Trump administration and Big Oil: Stay off our shores,” Menendez remarked.

“An oil spill would not only be an environmental disaster for our beaches, fisheries and marine life, but the economic consequences would ripple across the region in the form of lost jobs and shuttered businesses” Booker said. “Our bill, which bans offshore oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic coast, seeks to prevent an oil-related disaster in New Jersey and our neighboring states.”

COAST prohibits the U.S. Department of Interior from issuing leases for the exploration, development or production of oil or gas in the North, Mid-, or South Atlantic Ocean or the Straits of Florida. Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-6th) is the chief sponsor of companion legislation in the House of Representatives.  —J.K.-H.


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