Following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and the ensuing oil spill, people realized that additional safety was needed to protect offshore workers. These workers put their lives on the line every single day, and when companies cut corners to save costs, tragedies can occur.
In 2015, the federal government proposed a new set of offshore drilling regulations designed at avoiding future offshore catastrophes. These rules impose greater regulation of key rig components (like blowout preventers) and mandate increased inspection and monitoring of offshore operations.
However, despite the admirable goal of the regulations, they have been met with great opposition by lawmakers, particularly those in Louisiana.
Louisiana Congressmen Fight Offshore Drilling Regulations
Louisiana’s economy is dependent on the oil and gas business. This has posed a large problem lately as the price of oil has plummeted to under $30 per barrel and oil companies seem to be laying off more and more Louisiana employees ever day.
Given this climate, it is not much of a surprise that Louisiana’s legislators are doing whatever they can to protect oil and gas companies from incurring additional costs. They fear that the new regulations will serve as a “de facto” moratorium on drilling that would ultimately decrease exploration efforts.
As Representative Steve Scalise cautioned:
“You’re punishing people that haven’t done anything wrong….That tells me they’re trying to kill drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.”
The flip side of the argument, as explained by a spokesman for theBureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, is that cost should not be a factor when you’re dealing with human lives:
“They’re will be cost savings in terms of saving lives, preventing spillage of oil…And you can’t place a value on the savings of a loss of life.”
While both sides raise valid points, there has to be a middle ground between increased regulation and protecting offshore workers. Offshore oil and gas exploration and production is vital to the US economy, but it must be done in a way that affords some level of safety to offshore workers.
Offshore accidents continue to occur far too frequently. Although the new offshore drilling regulations may not be the answer, there must be a way to ensure the safety of maritime workers. This is particularly true in times like these where profits have decreased dramatically and companies have an incentive to cut costs wherever they can.