Coastal areas up to be auctioned off for oil drilling, while proposed Rule relaxes oil drilling safety regulations

February 2, 2018

Heeding calls from President Trump to increase domestic energy production, the Interior Department proposed a “five-year continental shelf plan” which would auction off the rights to drill for oil in federal coastal areas in the Artic, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The plan received immediate pushback from state lawmakers who opposed drilling off their respective state coasts not only on aesthetic grounds, but also because of spill risk fears and potential economic harms (including those related to tourism). The Interior Department also issued a proposed rule to reverse offshore drilling safety regulations put in place in 2016 by the Well Safety Rule; the proposed rule includes relaxing reporting and testing requirements of oil company blowout control systems (“the malfunction of which helped lead to the [2010 BP] Deepwater Horizon explosion”).

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