WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report released Thursday by Oceana, a nonprofit ocean advocacy group, finds that offshore drilling “remains dirty and dangerous nine years after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, which claimed the lives of 11 people and caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history,” according to a release from the organization.
The report also evaluates the Trump Administration’s proposal to expand offshore drilling to nearly all U.S. waters while chipping away at the few offshore safety regulations put in place following the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.
“Less safety and more drilling is a recipe for disaster,” said Diane Hoskins, campaign director at Oceana, in a statement.
“President Trump must drastically reverse course in order to prevent another BP Deepwater Horizon-like disaster. We should not be expanding dirty and dangerous offshore drilling to new areas when there’s overwhelming bipartisan opposition,” she continued. “We should be strengthening safety, not further weakening the few safety measures currently in place. Coastal communities and our environment cannot afford another environmental catastrophe, which is where we are headed under President Trump’s proposals. It’s time for President Trump to stand with coastal communities, not the oil and gas industry.”
The report came to several conclusions, including that between 2007 and 2017, there were at least 6,500 oil spills in U.S. waters, “and a recent study found that spills are typically far larger than what is reported,” according to the release. “Oil spills cannot be cleaned up effectively, with methods that have largely remained unchanged since the late 1980s.”
The findings also pointed to the cost of civil penalties not being a deterrent. Penalties for violating offshore operating requirements are capped at $44,675 per day, per violation while operating costs for offshore drilling facilities can be up to $1 million per day. The penalty for “violating offshore operating requirements are grossly inadequate and fail to deter corner-cutting,” according to the release.
“The facts are startling and the time for action is now – the stakes are too high,” said Hoskins. “We cannot gamble with the health and safety of our oceans and coasts.”
The organization recommends President Trump direct his administration to halt all efforts to expand offshore drilling activities and abandon attempts to weaken safety regulations and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement should improve the industry safety.
Oceana also suggests that Congress increase financial penalties for safety violations to deter non-compliant behavior and risk-tasking as well as require accurate oil spill reporting, establish industry-specific penalties for under reporting, increase federal resources and research new clean-up technologies, according to the release.