Rep. Grijalva on Addition of Offshore Drilling Agency to GAO High-Risk List: “Fix This Before We Start Drilling More of Our Oceans”

Feb 15, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today issued the following statement on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) adding the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) oversight of offshore oil and gas extraction activities to the 2017 High Risk List. GAO describes the list as a catalog of government agencies and programs that have the greatest “vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation.”

“President Trump and Congressional Republicans should read this report before they check off another oil and gas industry priority by opening up more of our oceans to drilling. BSEE is still struggling to implement the reforms that the Deepwater Horizon tragedy showed are badly needed, which means offshore workers and our environment are still facing an unacceptable risk. Our Atlantic and Arctic coastlines are too important to expose them to the danger of a massive oil spill, and this news from GAO just emphasizes that despite the industry’s lip service, expanding offshore drilling is simply too risky to consider.”

GAO initially put DOI management of federal oil and gas resources on the High Risk List following the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2011. In 2013, GAO said it was satisfied with progress that had been made in restructuring the former Minerals Management Service into BSEE and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, but a 2016 GAO report requested by Ranking Member Grijalva found that BSEE “has not fully addressed deficiencies in its investigative, environmental compliance, and enforcement capabilities identified by investigations after the Deepwater Horizon incident.” The report also found that BSEE is still using “pre-Deepwater Horizon policies and procedures.”

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