Zinke is officially rolling back offshore oil and gas production safety rules

Kyla Mandel

Kyla Mandel Associate Editor, Think Progress

Safety rules for the oil and gas industry introduced after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster are officially being rolled back by the Trump administration.

In a notice that will appear in the Federal Register Friday, the Department of Interior removes or revises certain rules focusing on safety requirements during the time an oil platform is producing oil and gas (as opposed to the drilling process).

Removing these regulations will help boost fossil fuel production, the notice explains.

“This rule,” it states, “supports the Administration’s objective of facilitating energy dominance by encouraging increased domestic oil and gas production and reducing unnecessary burdens on stakeholders, while ensuring safety and environmental protection.”

The rule change removes the mandate that independent third parties certify safety devices ensuring effective operations in extreme conditions. Instead, oil company employees will now be allowed to examine these devices themselves.

Companies will also no longer be required to notify the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) of “false alarms” that may come from safety equipment sensors. Companies will also only be required to inform officials when initial production of oil and gas begins at the site, rather than every subsequent time production starts.

This set of rules was not the main regulation introduced under the Obama administration after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 people and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. However, there have also been proposals to weaken parts of the central regulation, the Well Control Rule, as well.

The Interior’s notice comes from an administration pushing to expand offshore drilling along the country’s coastline — something the majority of local leaders oppose.

The news also comes shortly after the department announced it would auction off 78 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico for further oil and gas extraction. And at a conference earlier this month, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reportedly told the oil and gas industry “the government should work for you.”

The BSEE in a statement said that it incorporates the industry’s “best science and best practices…to ensure safety and environmental sustainability.”

But, reacting to the news, the director of the Sierra Club’s lands protection program, Athan Manuel, stated, “Nothing could be more reckless than seeking to expose more of our coasts to the risks of drilling while simultaneously increasing those risks by rolling back commonsense safety standards designed to protect workers and the environment from disasters like Deepwater Horizon.”

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work