Trump gives oil companies $1.5B gift by removing regulations that protect against oil spills

“Draining the swamp”?

“The White House estimates the reduced safety requirements will save oil companies $1.5 billion. As of 2016, the cleanup costs for the Deepwater Horizon spill totaled $62 billion. “

Trump gives oil companies $1.5B gift by removing regulations that protect against oil spills

NEAR GRAND ISLE, LA - APRIL 13:  The sun sets over the Gulf of Mexico and Barataria Bay April 13, 2011 near Grand Isle, Louisiana.  Grand Isle and Barataria Bay were two of the hardest hit areas in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion which killed eleven crew members. 206 million gallons of oil eventually spilled into the Gulf of Mexico until the BP well was finally sealed. Residents report that oil still washes up onto the beach after storms. April 20th marks the one-year anniversary of the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Gulf of Mexico in 2011 after 206 million gallons of oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform.

When the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded in April 2010, it not only immediately killed 11 workers; it also spilled an eventual total of more than three million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. That record spill destroyed the fishing and tourism industry in the area for years, and left an environmental scar that’s still visible. It took more than three months to cap the well and staunch the flow.

Following that disaster, President Obama directed the Interior Department to develop new guidelines for oil companies conducting drilling for oil under deep water. Which seems reasonable. But as the Associated Press reports, Donald Trump is “easing” those regulations. As in, removing them.

The Interior Department will give oil companies “flexibility” that allows them to take any approach they want to drilling so long as they maintain safety levels. If that sounds like permission for drilling companies to select their own level of risk and walk away with fat profits—so long as disaster doesn’t hit—it’s because that’s what it is. Reports the AP, “’We’re more open to invention,’ Scott Angelle, a safety regulator at the Interior Department, told the crowd. ‘We tell them what to do,’ he said. ‘How they do it is up to them.’”

Trump has paired this weakening of safety regulations with an expansion of drilling, opening up previously protected areas along both coasts to extensive drilling. On Tuesday, a federal judge blocked Trump’s drilling plans in a move that could put the fate of those areas in the hands of Congress.

The White House estimates the reduced safety requirements will save oil companies $1.5 billion. As of 2016, the cleanup costs for the Deepwater Horizon spill totaled $62 billion. 


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