07/18/2018 - Regulatory Rollback

Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling – Regulatory Changes

by EELP Staff

Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, the Department of the Interior (DOI) underwent a significant reorganization and issued rules and guidance to fill regulatory gaps in emergency response and operational oversight (for more on these changes, see our post on the 10 year anniversary here). President Obama also removed certain areas of the outer continental shelf from oil and gas development. (The outer continental shelf or OCS consists of “all submerged lands lying seaward of state coastal waters…under U.S. jurisdiction.”) Rolling back these rules and designations increases risks to offshore oil worker safety and, the non-oil and gas related economic value of oceans and coastal areas, and the ecological well-being of those areas.

Click here to view our page on the EO 13795: Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy and the other changes that have followed the EO. For more information on the reforms that followed the Deepwater Horizon disaster, view our 10-year anniversary post here.

April 28, 2017 President Trump signs Executive Order 13795 to “encourage energy exploration and production” on the OCS. It includes specific directives for rules that the Department of the Interior should review and reconsider. On May 1, 2017, DOI Secretary Zinke issues Secretarial Order 3350 to direct BOEM and BSEE as to how to implement the president’s Executive Order. More detail on the specific directives within these two orders is available on our page about EO 13795.

June 19, 2017 President Trump issues Executive Order 13840 rescinding and replacing Obama’s Ocean Policy (Executive Order 13547, July 19, 2010). The new order establishes a new policy regarding oceans, establishes an Ocean Policy Committee, and includes a requirement that within 90 days of the order agencies on the committee must review their regulations, guidance, and policies for consistency with the order and consult regarding any revisions or rescissions necessary. This may result in additional deregulatory efforts beyond those already tracked in this page.

June 22, 2017 BOEM / DOI publish notice of the start of a public comment period with no deadline for a host of regulatory reform efforts, including a review of the offshore well control rule, offshore air quality rule, and exploratory Arctic drilling rule. Click here to submit comments on the regulatory reform notice. This comment period is indefinite. The notice is in response to Trump’s Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda.”

Dec. 21, 2017 The Department of Interior (DOI) halted an independent study examining the efficacy of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s offshore drilling inspections.

Rules targeted for review, rescission, or reconsideration in these initiatives include the following. See the links below for the full history and status of each: