by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Interior Department just revised a series of Obama-era regulations governing offshore oil and gas drilling — and environmentalists are hopping mad.
Recently, green groups including the Sierra Club and EarthJustice filed a lawsuit against Interior’s update. These groups claim the Trump administration is “softening” and “relaxing” safety standards.
That’s not true. The revision simply cuts redundant federal regulations, making it easier for private offshore companies to manage risks, and the department deserves applause for boosting workers’ economic opportunities.
As many as 90 billion barrels of oil and 328 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lie buried in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf — the federally owned land beneath the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. To collect these energy riches, oil and gas firms use offshore rigs or platforms to drill wells into the ocean floor.
Interior’s update eliminates bureaucratic red tape around this process. The revision gets rid of redundant tests on wells and blowout preventers, the specialized valves that quickly seal wells to prevent oil spills. Without these repetitive tests, offshore workers have more time to focus on other, more effective safety measures.