Blowout Means We Must Cut Risk, Improve Safety on Offshore Rigs

WASHINGTON (July 24, 2013) -- A natural gas platform was on fire Wednesday in the Gulf of Mexico, a day after a blow-out forced the rig's 44 workers to be evacuated.

Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke made the following statement:

“This blowout reminds us, once again, of the hazards of offshore energy development and the necessity of doing everything we can to reduce the risks to our workers, waters and wildlife,” said Beinecke, who served on the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. “More than three years after the BP blowout, we still have a long way to go.

“Investigators are still learning about the causes of this disaster.  In general, though, there is much we can do, as a nation, to help make this industry safer for everyone.

“First, the industry itself needs to take the lead by forming an independent safety institute like the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations that was formed in the wake of the Three Mile Island disaster.

“At the federal level, we need an independent offshore safety authority to oversee oil and gas operations.

“We look forward to working with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on critical safety and environmental recommendations by the oil spill commission; including rules to strengthen the integrity of blowout preventers.

“We need full environmental impact statements for sites with complex geology or ultra-deepwater frontier areas.

“We must enhance the role of science in offshore drilling decisions, by creating a distinct science division within the federal oversight structure and by increasing consultations with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“We have to recognize that certain areas -- like the Arctic Ocean -- pose special hazards and challenges that make them unfit for offshore oil and gas operations."

“And, finally, we must reduce our reliance on oil and gas, over time, by investing in efficiency, so we can do more with less, and in wind, solar and other renewable sources of power.”