Energy & Environment

House Republicans push back on offshore drilling rule

Top House Republicans are asking the Obama administration to rewrite a forthcoming rule on offshore oil drilling. 

Regulators at the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement are close to finalizing a rule designed to prevent undersea well blowouts at drilling rigs. 

{mosads}The rule is the most significant measure stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The oil industry has said the rule will be costly to comply with, and Republicans in Congress have largely agreed. 

In a letter to the head of the administration’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Reps. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) said they worry the rule will be so stringent it will “severely limit both existing and future safe energy development in our nation’s outer Continental Shelf.”

The pair — Bishop is chair of the Natural Resources Committee, and Calvert heads the Appropriations panel that deals with Interior appropriations — said the rule could force drillers to impose standards so strict they may be “unable to move forward on approving multi-billion dollar investments to develop our nation’s offshore energy resources.”

They asked OIRA to pull back and revise the rule, reopening the public comment period along the way. The drilling industry, they said, is too important, economically, to hamstring. 

“Energy production in the Gulf of Mexico produces 16 percent of our nation’s oil and 5 percent of our natural gas — and is a key driver for economic opportunity not only in the Gulf states but throughout our nation,” they wrote. “From manufacturing, to refining, to the American families who are now seeing lower prices at the gas pump, all benefit from the increased energy production on our lands and waters.”

The Interior Department’s chief of staff said in February that it intends  to move forward with the rule, despite industry opposition. 

“We really believe, strongly, that this well control rule has always been a fundamental part of the reform effort, and it needs to be completed, so that we can continue raising the bar on safety,” Tommy Beaudreau said then.

Tags Deepwater Horizon oil spill Offshore drilling Rob Bishop

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