Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Blasts Plan to Weaken Oil Drilling Safety Rules

Dec 30, 2017
Press Release
Calls Proposal “Rash and Reckless”

“Have We Forgotten Deepwater Horizon so Soon?”

WASHINGTON — Congressman Vern Buchanan today condemned a government agency’s plan to weaken oil safety rules adopted after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. Buchanan called the proposal “rash and reckless” and said if it is not withdrawn he will urge Congress to intercede.

“Have we forgotten the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe so soon?” Buchanan asked, referring to the explosion of an oil rig in the Gulf Coast in 2010 that killed 11 people and led to one of the worst oil spills and environmental disasters in U.S. history. “This is a recipe for disaster.”

A division of the Interior Department, the Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement, on Friday said some of the regulations adopted in response to the tragedy created “potentially unduly burdensome requirements” on oil and gas operators. Its proposal was published Friday in the Federal Register.

Buchanan is a longtime opponent of allowing drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast and supports strong safety measures enacted after the Deepwater Horizon incident to prevent similar disasters in the future.

“It would be a huge mistake to weaken these safety regulations and risk not only lives but catastrophic consequences to our environment,” Buchanan said. “If Secretary Zinke does not reject this rash and reckless proposal then I will ask Congress to intercede and make the rules permanent.”

Buchanan has introduced bipartisan legislation to protect Florida’s coastlines from devastating oil spills. The Marine Oil Spill Prevention Act would extend by five years a ban on oil drilling off much of Florida’s Gulf coast until 2027. The current moratorium, which bans oil drilling within 125 miles of most of the Gulf, is set to expire on June 30, 2022.

Earlier this year, Buchanan opposed a Trump administration plan to open up more than 70 million acres off the coast of Florida to oil and gas drilling.

Buchanan’s opposition to drilling off the Florida coast also includes strong support for 2016 Interior Department rules spelling out national well safety requirements, such as more frequent testing of blowout preventers.