Louisiana governor, House members protest BSEE well-control proposal

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s proposed offshore well-control rule would be too costly and could curtail oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and members of the state’s US House delegation said in separate protests.

“No state was hit harder by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy than Louisiana, and we are all deeply committed from preventing a similar disaster from happening again,” Edwards said in a letter released on Mar. 23 as a delegation from the state met with White House Office of Management and Budget officials who are reviewing the proposed regulation and BSEE Director Brian Salerno.

“It is essential today that regulators and industry participants alike take the most constructive path possible to improving the safety of offshore operations,” the governor said. “I do not believe that the current draft of the [well control rule] is the best path forward.”

Two days earlier, two Republican members of Louisiana’s US House delegation urged leaders of an Appropriations subcommittee to include language in the US Department of Interior’s Fiscal 2017 budget prohibiting BSEE from using appropriated funds to implement the proposed rule “or any substantially similar rule or guidance.”

In a Mar. 22 letter to Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) and Ranking Minority Member Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Reps. Garrett Graves and Charles Boustany Jr. said, “While BSEE contends that this rule has been proposed in order to improve safety in the offshore energy industry, experts and engineers agree that this proposed rule could instead result in decreased safety and increased risks in drilling operations because of the highly prescriptive, one-size-fits-all nature of the rule.”

Another 24 House Republicans also signed the letter. “This is a perfect example of uninformed bureaucrats attempting to write highly-technical rules and entirely missing the mark,” Graves said on Mar. 22 as he and Boustany released it. “[DOI] estimates compliance with the rule would cost approximately $880 million, while a private study found it could cost nearly $95 billion.  There is a fundamental disconnect there that needs to be resolved.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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