Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 2, 2019

Contact: Kristen Monsell, (914) 806-3467,

Trump Administration Weakens Offshore Oil Well-control Rule

Latest Drilling Safety Rollback Ignores Cause of Deepwater Horizon Disaster

WASHINGTON— The Trump administration reportedly plans to relax an offshore oil well-control rule today that was adopted to address a key cause of the deadly BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. It’s the latest in a series of offshore drilling safety rollbacks pushed by Trump appointees.  

The administration claims the new Blowout Prevention Systems and Well Control Rule would save the oil industry almost $1 billion by weakening subsea blowout-prevention system requirements recommended by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. It replaces a rule the Obama administration said would save $1.5 billion over 10 years by preventing catastrophic oil spills.

“Another catastrophic offshore oil spill just became far more likely,” said Kristen Monsell, ocean legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This reckless administration is ignoring Deepwater Horizon’s lessons and putting oil-industry profits before public safety. Trump wants to make dirty, dangerous offshore drilling even less safe as he expands it into every U.S. ocean.”

Last year the Trump administration proposed a five-year offshore leasing plan that would vastly expand offshore drilling into the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. Work on that plan was recently suspended amid growing bipartisan opposition in coastal states and after a federal judge blocked Trump’s illegal attempt to rescind permanent protections for the Arctic and Atlantic.

The new well-control rule follows other offshore safety rule rollbacks finalized last year, including ending the requirement for third-party inspections of safety equipment. Today’s new rule, promulgated by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, goes to the heart of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. That 2010 explosion killed 11 rig workers and caused more than 210 million gallons of oil to flow uncontrolled into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months.

“We need to learn from Deepwater Horizon, which killed thousands of marine mammals and birds and cost the Gulf Coast billions of dollars. Instead Trump’s risking that same kind of damage all over again,” Monsell said. “Offshore oil drilling needs to be phased out, not made more pervasive and dangerous.”       

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

More press releases