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Congressman Garret Graves

Representing the 6th District of Louisiana

Graves and Boustany Lead Effort to Stop BSEE Well Control Rule

March 22, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressmen Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge) and Charles Boustany, Jr., MD, (R-Lafayette) led a letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting that language be included in the Interior, Environment and Related Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017 prohibiting the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) from using any funds for the implementation of the agency’s proposed well control rule.

In response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the federal government and industry has made a continuous effort to improve offshore safety regulation. The well control rule has come under criticism from oil & gas industry stakeholders who say the rule imposes an impossible mandate on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, requiring technology that has not been developed and will not have a demonstrable benefit to safety. These stakeholders argue the rule could amount to a de facto drilling moratorium in the Gulf until new technology to meet the rule’s requirements is developed over the coming years. Experts at Wood Mackenzie concluded that if this rule went into effect, as many as 190,000 direct jobs would be lost due to a decrease in exploration and production. The well control rule is currently under review at the Office of Information and Regulatory affairs within the Office of Management and Budget.

Graves said: “We lost 11 lives during the Deepwater Horizon disaster and have lost 25% of the oil and gas jobs in the state of Louisiana over the last 14 months. Misguided regulations like this only add to these tragedies.  This is a perfect example of uninformed bureaucrats attempting to write highly-technical rules and entirely missing the mark.  The Department of the Interior 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.  If finalized, this rule would result in less safe offshore conditions and a further bleeding of energy jobs in Louisiana.  I am all for innovation and improving safety, but this rule needs to go back to the drawing board.  Experts in the field need to be brought in to help write it.  This is why people hate government -- you simply cannot do things like this in a vacuum or ivory tower like the Department of Interior has done.”

Boustany said, “The well control rule is a solution in search of a problem. While we all agree on the goal of a safe work environment in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama Administration is approaching this problem from a punitive - not practical - standpoint. Not only does the oil & gas industry continue to warn this rule as implemented would have no demonstrable safety benefit, it would cost thousands of jobs precisely while the industry is struggling.  Congressman Graves and I are asking Congress to join us, support our hard working oil & gas industry, and stand up against the Obama Administration's latest over-the-top attack on energy.”

The text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Chairman Calvert and Ranking Member McCollum:

We write to urge you to include language in the upcoming Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017 which would prohibit the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) from using appropriated funds to implement the proposed rule "Oil and Gas and Sulphur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf - Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control," or any substantially similar rule or guidance.

Since the horrific accident on the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010, the federal government and the industry have made a continuous effort to improve safety offshore - enhancing regulations and standards on safety and environmental management systems as well as offshore equipment and operations, including well design and well control, to protect workers and the environment.

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.

Although the rule is currently under review at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the Office of Management and Budget, we believe it is imperative Congress act now to prevent further implementation of this devastating rule and prohibit BSEE from using appropriated funds for this or any substantially similar rule.   Accordingly, we ask that you include language similar to the following in the respective Appropriations Acts:

“SEC. __. None of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be expended by the Secretary of the Interior (referred to in this section as the “Secretary”) to implement or enforce any regulations issued after March 1, 2016, that address any subject of the proposed rule entitled “Oil and Gas and Sulphur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf – Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control” (80 Fed. Reg. 21504 (April 17, 2015)) (referred to in this section as the “Well Control Rule”) unless and until the Secretary—

(a) writes a revised version of the Well Control Rule that incorporates the information learned from additional technical workshops with industry experts;

(b) provides notice and an opportunity for public comment, for at least 180 days, on the revised version of the Well Control Rule; and

(c) issues a revised final version of the Well Control Rule”

We ask that you to consider the effects that this rule would have on important sectors of our economy, and we urge you to include prohibiting language in the upcoming Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

We thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this request.  We appreciate your attention to this important matter.

 

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A copy of the letter can be viewed here

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