U.S. Government Stops Offshore Safety Study
The U.S. government has halted an independent scientific study of its offshore oil and gas inspections.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has ordered the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to suspend all work on a study designed to review and update the Bureau’s offshore oil and gas inspection program to enhance safety. BSEE was established following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill that killed 11 people.
The stop-work order, dated December 7, says that within 90 days the stop-work order will either be lifted and work on the study can resume or the contract to perform the study will be terminated. The committee conducting the study held its first and only meeting (to date) in Washington, D.C. on October 26-27. Future meetings planned to be held in the Gulf of Mexico region have been put on hold.
The National Academies have issued a statement saying they are “disappointed that their important study has been stopped.”
This is the second National Academies study halted by the Department of the Interior in the last four months. 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. 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,” said the National Academies. Some private donors have expressed an interest in funding the completion of the study.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.