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April 17, 2017
Seven Years After Deepwater Horizon, Offshore Oil Has Flourished Amid Tighter Regulation
Seven years after Deepwater Horizon, offshore oil operations provide a compelling argument that environmental regulations can improve safety without stalling growth.
By Sam Orivia Forbes
Seven years ago this week, the U.S. offshore oil and gas industry experienced the worst failure in its history. On April 20, 2010, while drilling an exploratory well off the coast of Louisiana, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig suffered a catastrophic blowout, leading to several crippling explosions and an uncontainable fire that sank the ship. The accident severed the rig’s connection to the sea floor, and the blowout preventer—a critical piece of last-resort safety equipment—failed, allowing oil to flow rapidly into the Gulf of Mexico. Nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil ultimately leaked from the damaged well.
The Obama Administration—which in the months prior indicated that it was considering expanding development—responded to the spill with a slew of regulatory actions. And, industry advocates responded in kind with claims that the steps were a dramatic overreaction and that the stricter regulations would cost thousands of jobs and cripple the U.S. offshore industry.
Fast forward to today and the same types of claims are now rampant in political discourse. The idea that increased regulation in pursuit of better environmental outcomes is anti-growth has led to questions over the appropriate role and impact of agencies like the EPA. But, seven years after the spill, offshore oil operations provide a pretty compelling argument that environmental regulations don’t have to hold back growth...