Trump Weakens Rules Meant to Prevent Next Deepwater Horizon Spill
Officials announced changes to the Well Control Rule on the Louisiana coast, not far from where the 2010 oil rig explosion killed 11 workers and poured around 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, The Washington Post reported.
The Trump administration today weakened crucial offshore drilling safety standards that were put in place after the… https://t.co/PCi1DrpLLl— NRDC 🌎 (@NRDC 🌎)1556828227.0
"The well control rule was one of the most important actions we took, as a nation, in response to the BP-style disaster at sea," Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Director of Strategic Engagement Bob Deans said in a statement of the original rule. "The rule draws directly from lessons learned from that debacle. It creates tools to help reduce the risk of these dangerous industrial operations at sea."
BSEE Finalizes Improved Blowout Preventer and Well Control Regulations https://t.co/uTGw0nlsKp https://t.co/HdyYJHgyap— BSEE (@BSEE)1556823895.0
The NRDC explained how the Trump's Department of Interior (DOI) was weakening that rule, which was finalized by the Obama administration in 2016:
The agency is walking back components of the well control rule, such as removing requirements for real-time backup monitoring by onshore experts and annual certification of the blowout preventer's integrity by an approved third-party expert. Blowout preventers will now be allowed to simply close, instead of achieving an effective seal, which mirrors standards set by the American Petroleum Institute. (A malfunction of a blowout preventer is what caused the 2010 disaster.) Together, the changes represent a favor to the oil industry and a threat to "workers, waters, and wildlife," Deans says.
In a statement Thursday, Interior Secretary David Berhnardt insisted the change was made with safety in mind.
"Today's final rule puts safety first, both public and environmental safety, in a common sense way," Bernhardt said, as The Washington Post reported. "Incorporating the best available science, best practices and technological innovations of the past decade, the rule eliminates unnecessary regulatory burdens while maintaining safety and environmental protection offshore."
But officials at DOI division the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said the changes would also save the offshore oil and gas industry about a billion dollars over 10 years.
"Given David Bernhardt's close ties to his former clients and friends in the fossil fuel industry, it's no surprise that he's seeking to give them free rein to spoil our coasts and public waters and put workers in harm's way," Sierra Club Lands Protection Program Director Athan Manuel said in a statement. "These safeguards were put in place in response to the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, and with this latest favor for oil and gas companies Bernhardt is putting us at risk of a similar disaster."
The Deepwater Horizon spill had disastrous consequences for the environment and economy of the Gulf of Mexico, The Washington Post reported. Those included:
- $95 million in losses for the Gulf fishing industry just in 2010
- The deaths of one million seabirds
- The deaths of more than 150 whales and dolphins
The deregulation is part of President Donald Trump's overall push to expand offshore oil drilling and "energy dominance," The Huffington Post explained. It comes about a month after a judge blocked Trump's attempt to open up the Arctic ocean to drilling, leading the DOI to likely postpone plans to make more than 90 percent of coastal waters available for oil and gas leasing, NPR reported.
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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