WASHINGTON – Florida lawmakers sharply criticized a Trump administration plan to weaken oil drilling regulations established after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
"This administration wants to turn a blind eye to history just to help their friends in the oil industry," said Sen. Bill Nelson. "We can't let that happen. These rules were put in place to prevent another massive oil spill off our coasts. We can't allow this new administration to take us backwards in time and, once again, expose Florida's beautiful beaches and tourism-based economy to such an unnecessary risk."
Rep. Vern Buchanan called the weakening "reckless and unacceptable … Have we learned nothing from the worst environmental disaster in American history? These safeguards should remain in place."
Gov. Rick Scott: "As the Florida Department of Environmental Protection clearly stated in January, we are firmly against these proposed changes. While I appreciate Secretary Zinke taking Florida off the table for offshore oil drilling, I remain concerned about the potential impact these changes could have on Florida's environment. We will continue to work with the Department of the Interior on ways to ensure the protection of Florida's coastline."
Federal regulators next week will unveil proposed changes to a major rule passed in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which the Trump administration says it can revise to be less of a burden on offshore oil drillers without compromising safety.
The existing rule—six years in the making and known as the "well-control rule"—was completed in the final year of President Barack Obama's second term, and governs everything from the use of blowout preventers like the device that failed in the Deepwater Horizon spill, to the amount of pressure drillers must maintain to avoid accidents.
But the rule, the broadest of several completed after the 2010 spill, has been a point of contention with the oil-and-gas industry, which objects to some of the costs of complying with its safety measures and what the industry says is an overly prescriptive approach by the government to regulating oil production.