NPR reports that the Obama administration released a new set of rules for offshore drilling operators that create tougher requirements for well design, cementing practices, blowout preventers, and employee training.
In effect, the rules will improve the safety of drilling operators and lessen the chance of another disaster like the one in the Gulf. With the federal ban on offshore drilling in U.S. waters set to expire on November 30th, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wanted to get these tougher requirements in place before drilling goes back online.
"We are raising the bar for safety, oversight and environmental protection," Salazar said in a speech at an energy conference in Washington. "The oil and gas industry needs to expect a dynamic regulatory environment as we bring the U.S.'s offshore programs up to the gold standard we need to have."
Further safety mechanisms have also been proposed, and the new policies will no doubt reduce the risks of offshore drilling. But as we continue to deplete the most easily accessible offshore reserves, drilling operators have to drill in more difficult locations, theoretically increasing the odds of another catastrophic spill. So while these new regulations are an important safeguard measure, they are really just a band-aid that don't address the real issue at hand: moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.
- Mitchell Flexo
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