Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

January 2018 Prez Sez

It is all for the Big Oil Guys

The Trump Administration, showing once again their true colors and kissing the rings of the Koch brothers and other Big Oil interests, made two separate announcements in the last few days.  The first was to roll back some safety regulations put in place after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, among them, to require a third party to certify that an oil rig’s blowout preventer is functioning properly.  You will recall that, during the incident, the blowout preventer malfunctioned and was not able to stop five million barrels of oil from soaking birds, beaches and fish, and costing fishermen their livelihoods and causing a year’s worth of loss to the tourist industry.

The Department of the Interior says the proposed rule changes will reduce unnecessary burdens on the oil industry without compromising safety.  Really?  Then why did the BP disaster occur?

More recently, the Administration (DOI) said it would allow new offshore drilling in nearly all coastal waters.  This is against the wishes of most of the governors of the coastal states, including our own, Rick Scott.  Coastal states do not want to risk their coastlines and natural resources, jobs and tourism, especially since the Deepwater Horizon disaster is still in the recent memory of those who care.

Picture this: A string of oil wells in the path of any hurricane like Matthew or Irma, or even the winter storm the Eastern Seaboard is currently experiencing.  YGBSM!

Fortunately, there are a few factors that may make this more difficult, especially in the short term.  Oil prices are relatively low because of the increased production by U.S. companies through fracking.  Until recently, there has been a glut on the world market.  In addition, there is little infrastructure to support rigs along the East Coast.  Not so in the Gulf of Mexico.  Oil companies would love to have expanded access there, despite the same problems with hurricanes, and against the objections of coastal states.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Edwin Markey (D-MA) have stated that they will invoke a Senate rule called the Congressional Review Act to try to stop these changes legislatively.  Nelson will invoke it for the post-BP disaster safety regulations, and Markey for the opening of the Coastal waters for drilling. It is a procedure that would counter a rule-making by a regulator, in this case the DOI. It would require passage by a majority in both houses of Congress and be signed into law by the President to overturn the rules.  We will see how that works out.

The DOI will have a comment period on both these issues.  We need to get everybody on board to make comments opposing both these rules.  I will let you know as soon as I find out about where to go to comment.  I will announce them on our Facebook page, so if you haven’t been there, please check it out.