Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, found to be partially caused by lax safety regulations, killed 11 people and injured 16. (Photo: Florida Sea Grant/Flickr/cc)

In Bid to Save Big Oil $900M, Trump Moves to Scrap Offshore Drilling Safety Rules

The BSEE proposes eliminating regulations that were put in place in response to the deadliest offshore drilling disaster in U.S. history

Julia Conley

The oil and gas industry is poised to save hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade thanks to a rollback of offshore drilling safety regulations that have been proposed by the Trump administration—including the elimination of the word "safe" from one rule.

The rules in question were put in place following the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010, which killed 11 people, injured 16, and caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Siding with the fossil fuel industry, which has complained safety regulations are overly broad, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has proposed scrapping or changing some major requirements, according to the Wall Street Journal. The rules to be changed include one that orders companies to take steps to prevent oil-well blowouts, part of what caused British Petroleum's (BP) Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The BSEE argued that the word "safe" should be taken out of the rule, to stop regulators from "interpreting the term in a way to withhold certain drilling permits."

The bureau also proposed eliminating a rule that requires a third party to inspect drilling equipment, like the blowout preventor which failed just before the BP explosion.

The rollback "is literally going back to business as usual," a former federal official told the Journal, which obtained the BSEE's proposal.

The oil and gas industry is expected to save about $900 million over the next decade if the proposal is adopted. Fossil fuel companies rake in more than $100 billion in revenue per year, making the annual savings comparatively minor—but as critics and politicians pointed out on social media, the elimination of the Obama-era safety regulations could cost lives as the BP disaster did.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

EPA's Environmental Justice Office 'Won't Make Up for' Manchin Deal, Campaigner Says

"We've seen a lot of structural changes on environmental justice in the Biden, Obama and Clinton administrations, but we need to see the results," said Wes Gobar of the Movement for Black Lives.

Julia Conley ·


Historic Tropical Storm Fiona Sweeps Homes Into Ocean in Eastern Canada

"Climate change leads to warmer ocean water at higher latitudes," said one Canadian civil engineering professor. "A warmer future increases the probability that more intense storms will reach Canadian coasts."

Julia Conley ·


Federal Judge Allows 'Untenable' Plan to Send Juvenile Inmates to Angola Prison

"The move defies all common sense and best practices, and it will cause irrevocable damage to our youth and families," said one children's advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'Catastrophic': Arizona Judge Allows 1864 Abortion Ban to Go Into Effect

"No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom," said one rights advocate.

Julia Conley ·


US Progressives Express Solidarity With Iranian Protesters After Death of Mahsa Amini

"The right to choose belongs to us all, from hijabs to reproductive care," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo