Chemical safety board scraps recommendation on offshore safety

By Jordan Blum  Updated: November 17, 2017 8:31am

Offshore oil rig workers will remain without broad whistleblower protections after a federal agency this week opted to withdraw recommendations made in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board opted to pull its worker participation and whistleblower protection recommendations after the federal agency that regulates offshore drilling, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, refused to enact the protections. Under President Donald Trump, the bureau has shifted its focus to reducing what it calls unnecessary regulations.

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This is the page for the Macando investigation:

On the bottom left there is a header for Recommendations. Several of them are still open and I haven't read them all but you can check on the status of each here.

The bulk of articles that I have read this year are along these lines.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s Investigation into the Macondo Disaster Finds Offshore Risk Management and Regulatory Oversight Still Inadequate in Gulf of Mexico

Washington, DC, April 13, 2016 - Offshore regulatory changes made thus far do not do enough to place the onus on industry to reduce risk, nor do they sufficiently empower the regulator to proactively oversee industry’s efforts to prevent another disaster like the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill at the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, an independent investigation by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) warns.


U.S. Chemical Safety Board faces death sentence

Trump’s plan to kill investigation panel could leave industry without a key tool to reduce risk

By Jeff Johnson, special to C&EN

The future of the U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board is in doubt now that President Donald J. Trump is proposing to abolish the small agency.

CSB is the world’s only independent body dedicated to investigating chemical-related industrial accidents to find their root causes and, in hopes of preventing similar incidents, pass this information on to companies, regulators, workers, and communities.

Macondo was a BP mistake.  We have successfully drilled numerous wells into the Macondo reservoir with no issues.  Get off the industry’s back liberal media.


I was unaware that Chemical & Engineering Magazine was "liberal media". 

Chemical & Engineering News is a weekly trade magazine published by the American Chemical Society, providing professional and technical information in the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is certainly not.

Well they certainly have no idea what is going on in the GOM.


I won't weigh in on the specifics of these particular regulations because I don't know enough about them.  But, let it be said, the Obama administration was the most aggressive administration in my (long) life in developing and implementing new regulations, some reasonable and common sense, and many, many that were drastic over-reaches.  I will cite the National Labor Relations Board and the Department of Labor would be my prime examples.  I also have high concern over the "Waters of the US" regulations from the EPA and Corps of Engineers, plus many other EPA measures that I view as over-reaching.

What we have now is the pendulum swinging in the other direction, and perhaps too far.  Elections have results.  

On another day, I'll get on my soapbox about whistleblowers.  I've dealt with them for the past 25 years.  Maybe 20% were sincere and well informed; most of the rest were either trying to protect their job from some screw-up on their part, or playing out an agenda against someone or something.  But that's just my experience.  It doesn't take too long to sort those out, but the sorting is not news worthy.  Just the first allegations.

I wouldn't be surprised to find that there are some regulations that are inappropriate or even harmful.  Unfortunately politicians and pundits make claims that those  regulations are numerous without ever stating exactly what they are and why they are a problem.  I don't believe any claims on either side of the question without verifiable specifics.  One of our national problems is that we lack skepticism and do not demand all the facts on both sides of an issue.  We accept whatever resonates with our political point of view.  By doing so we let politicians get by with pronouncements that they more often than not, can not defend. 

Trump halts funding for offshore drilling safety study

By Timothy Cama - 12/21/17

The Trump administration has paused its funding for a major study meant to improve how regulators enforce offshore oil and natural gas drilling safety.

The congressionally chartered National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said Thursday that the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) sent a stop-work order for the study earlier this month.

The National Academies had already gathered a committee of researchers for the study and conducted a meeting on the matter in October.

“The National Academies are grateful to the committee members for their service and disappointed that their important study has been stopped,” it said in a statement.

BSEE told the National Academies that it would decide within 90 days whether to resume funding.

BSEE requested the study in 2016 as part of an ongoing effort to implement lessons learned from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BSEE spokesman Gregory Julian said the pause will allow the agency to evaluate whether the National Academies study is duplicating efforts already underway to improve its inspections.

“As BSEE moves forward with implementing a risk-based inspection program to strengthen and improve its existing inspection program, the [National Academies] study was paused by BSEE to allow time to ensure that there are no duplicate efforts,” he said.

This is the second time President Trump’s Interior Department has halted a National Academies study. In August, the Office of Surface Mining stopped funding for a study into the potential health effects of people living near mountaintop removal mining operations.

The National Academies said Thursday that it had still not heard from Interior on whether it will resume funding for the mining study.


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