Trump admin orders agency to stop studying ways to prevent oil rig explosions

By Ray Downs  |  Dec. 22, 2017 at 2:33 AM
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Dec. 22 (UPI) -- The Trump administration stopped funding for a major study to find improvements on how inspections of offshore oil and gas operations are conducted, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine announced Thursday.

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement requested the study in 2016 as part of a series of studies to be carried out by the National Academies to review the causes of the April 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, which resulted in an 87-day-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Times-Picayune reported.

BSEE spokesman Gregory Julian said the stoppage was implemented to give the agency time to evaluate whether National Academies is duplicating parts of the study, The Hill reported.

"As BSEE moves forward with implementing a risk-based inspection program to strengthen and improve its existing inspection program, the [National Academies] study was paused by BSEE to allow time to ensure that there are no duplicate efforts," he said.

BSEE will decide whether the study will continue within 90 days.

National Academies said this was the second study halted by the DOI in the past four months and the first one wasn't continued.

"In August, a study on the potential health effects for people living near surface coal mining sites in Central Appalachia was stopped pending a review of contracts by DOI," the group said. "The National Academies have not received any update on the status of that review and the study remains on hold.  Given how important this study is to the citizens and communities surrounding these surface mining sites in Appalachia, the National Academies believe the study should be completed and are exploring options to do so."

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