An offshore oil rig in the slightly wavy ocean, backed by a sunset-tinged sky.

Offshore Drilling Regulations

Pro­duc­tion Safe­ty Sys­tems Rule

2017-2021

  • Decem­ber 2017

    In Decem­ber 2017, the Inte­ri­or Depart­men­t’s Bureau of Safe­ty and Envi­ron­men­tal Enforce­ment (BSEE) released revi­sions to the Pro­duc­tion Safe­ty Sys­tems Rule to weak­en off­shore drilling safe­ty reg­u­la­tions that had been put in place after the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon explo­sion and spill.

  • Jan­u­ary 2018

    In Jan­u­ary 2018, Mary­land Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bri­an Frosh led a coali­tion of five attor­neys gen­er­al in sub­mit­ting com­ments express­ing strong oppo­si­tion to any weak­en­ing of BSEE’s off­shore drilling safe­ty reg­u­la­tions. The com­ments warned against an unjus­ti­fied rever­sal of need­ed safe­ty updates, par­tic­u­lar­ly as the Inte­ri­or Depart­ment is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly con­sid­er­ing dra­mat­i­cal­ly expand­ing the scope of off­shore drilling.

  • Sep­tem­ber 2018

    In Sep­tem­ber 2018, BSEE issued a final rule, which rolled back sev­er­al off­shore drilling safe­ty provisions.

Well Con­trol Rule

2017-2021

  • May 2018

    In May 2018, the Inte­ri­or Depart­ment (through the Bureau of Safe­ty and Envi­ron­men­tal Enforce­ment) released a pro­posed rule to roll back crit­i­cal com­po­nents of the Blowout Pre­ven­ter and Well Con­trol Rule, which had been devel­oped to pre­vent anoth­er cat­a­stroph­ic oil spill such as the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon oil spill in 2010.

  • August 2018

    In August 2018, Mary­land Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bri­an Frosh led a coali­tion of ten attor­neys gen­er­al in sub­mit­ting com­ments in oppo­si­tion to weak­en­ing the Blowout Pre­ven­ter and Well Con­trol Rule. Cal­i­for­nia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Xavier Becer­ra sub­mit­ted sep­a­rate, but sim­i­lar com­ments to BSEE. The attor­neys gen­er­al not­ed the roll­back is par­tic­u­lar­ly alarm­ing as the Bureau of Ocean Ener­gy Man­age­ment is propos­ing to expand off­shore drilling to areas least pre­pared to respond to poten­tial oil spills because oil or gas activ­i­ties are non-exis­tent in those areas today.

  • May 2019

    In May 2019, BSEE pub­lished its final ver­sion of the rule; revis­ing pro­vi­sions in the Blowout Pre­ven­ter and Well Con­trol Rule. The final rule amends 68 pro­vi­sions in the 2016 Well Con­trol Rule, most­ly align­ing fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions with the Amer­i­can Petro­le­um Institute’s indus­try stan­dards for pre­vent­ing blowouts. The final rule also elim­i­nat­ed a pro­vi­sion that required the Bureau to approve the qual­i­fi­ca­tions and inde­pen­dence of con­trac­tors that oil and gas com­pa­nies were hir­ing to con­duct third par­ty safe­ty reviews.