The North Carolina Coastal Federation recently signed on to a comment letter written by the Southern Environmental Law Center in opposition to the proposed Well Control Rule changes. The Well Control Rule (WCR) was put into place after the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, Deepwater Horizon.
The rule was created to make offshore drilling safer by requiring the use of blowout preventers (BOPs). BOPs are designed to prevent oil spills during emergencies; the lack of blowout preventers was the primary cause of the BP oil spill in 2010. Since the implementation of this rule, the number of offshore drilling incidents was at zero in 2017.
Recently, the President announced his plan to weaken the Well Control Rule in order to cut costs.
The proposed rule change lifts the requirement of having a third party inspector of blowout preventers be certified by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). With the proposed rule, this would mean that inspectors do not even have to be present during the inspection. The new rule will also reduce the overall testing of BOP stacks and level of detail required for inspections. The changes will also decrease other safety precautions and impact various drilling techniques.
Additionally, this rule no longer requires oil companies to report to BSEE that they are actually monitoring the wells in real-time. All the oil companies have to do is show that they have the capability to use real-time monitoring devices, meaning oil spills could go unnoticed and unreported. If a company decided to move their rig from one location to another, they no longer need to report that to BSEE either.
The President is also attempting to open the Mid- and South Atlantic to offshore drilling which will negatively impact natural resources and thriving coastal economies.
The federation is against these changes as they weaken the rule and can negatively impact the water and natural habitat of coastlines across the United States, potentially including North Carolina.
The federation is dedicated to keeping our coast healthy and beautiful and does not support the proposed changes being made to the WCR for fear it could damage our coastal habitats and communities should another oil spill happen.