Monday, June 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Don’t loosen safety regulations on offshore drilling

Scientists are still years if not decades away from fully understanding the extent of the damage from the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But already, the Trump administration is maneuvering to loosen the safety regulations methodically put in place after the worst oil spill in American history. This is a risky, unnecessary step that all Florida lawmakers should oppose.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the federal agency that oversees oil and gas drilling, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, proposed scaling back some safety measures the industry says are burdensome. If approved, the measure would repeal a requirement that the agency certify third-party inspectors of equipment, including blowout preventers, a critical last line of defense that failed in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the gulf. The explosion on the rig killed 11 workers, sent millions of barrels of oil gushing into the gulf and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage.

The proposal would also relax requirements that companies stream real-time oil production data to onshore facilities that regulators could review. While the government would retain a standard dictating how much pressure companies would need to maintain while drilling a well, the agency wants to eliminate the term "safe" from a section of the rule. The industry argues the term "safe" is moot given that modern safety practices already accommodate that goal. If the changes take effect, they could save the industry more than $900 million over a decade.

The agencyís justification, according to the Journal, is that the Obama administrationís post-Deepwater reforms failed to account for how the industry adapted after the disaster. That baseless argument is premature at best. The federal government still doesnít have a full picture of the environmental damage to the gulf. Federal officials spent years under Obama working with the industry on improving offshore safety practices and emergency response, but those plans largely are untested, and the Deepwater tragedy exposed the gap between safety plans that exist on paper and how they perform in the real world.

The harsh and unpredictable environment a mile under the sea requires that drilling standards put safety first. These revisions would not only curtail the governmentís role in enforcing reasonable safety standards, but reduce the level of corporate accountability in an operation that involves an ever-evolving mix of contractors and subcontractors alike. The post-Deepwater reforms were also intended to plug a serious hole by creating a culture where platform operators, corporate managers and federal regulators improved their communications and worked more as a team. But these changes return an honor system to an industry with a bad history of self-policing, and they would keep government more in the dark about an operation that is inherently dangerous.

This rollback in safety was widely expected after President Donald Trump in April ordered the BSEEís parent agency, the Interior Department, to consider repealing "regulations that slow job creation." And it comes as the BSEE has halted an independent scientific study of offshore oil inspections that was established after the BP spill. Given the risks to Florida of drilling in the gulf, state leaders in both parties need to oppose the administrationís move and work with Congress to codify more of these safety reforms into law. If there is any lesson from the BP disaster, itís the price the nation is forced to pay by short-cutting on safety. If the administration doesnít get it, then Congress and the state of Florida must be heard.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

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Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

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Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18

Editorial: Florida needs to explain its own price gouging

In the wake of Hurricane Irma last fall, Attorney General Pam Bondi vowed to scour Florida to prevent businesses from exploiting consumers by price gouging. It turns out she could have just looked down the hall in the state capitol. Based on reportin...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18