Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM), announced on 19 July that he will be leading a series of public meetings to collect information and views about deepwater drilling safety reforms, blowout containment and oil spill response. He also will be soliciting input from the public, state and local leaders, and experts from academia, the environmental community, and the oil and gas industry. The BOEM plans to hold meetings in seven states – Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Specific locations and dates will be announced soon.
“We will engage the public and experts on these issues to determine what additional measures are needed so that deepwater drilling can proceed in a manner that is safe for crews, the environment and coastal communities,” Mr Bromwich said. “It’s important that we hear from those who have been directly affected by the BP oil spill, as well as from other stakeholders, including the conservation community and the oil and gas industry itself.”
“We need to know that industry got the message,” he continued, “and that they are quickly taking steps to ensure deepwater drilling operations are safe. They also have to demonstrate to us that they can contain a catastrophic blowout similar to BP oil spill as well as respond appropriately in the event of another oil spill.”
The new suspensions issued on 12 July established a pause in deepwater drilling. The Department of Interior (DOI) has cited the suspension as necessary in order to address issues related to drilling, blowout containment and oil spill response. More time is needed to collect additional information regarding these issues through public outreach and ongoing investigations into the Deepwater Horizon incident, the DOI said.
The suspensions are set to last until 30 November 2010, or until such earlier time that US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar determines that deepwater drilling operations can proceed safely.
Meetings are being scheduled for August in these cities: New Orleans, La.; Lafayette, La.; Mobile, Ala.; Pensacola, Fla.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Anchorage, Alaska. Meetings will be held in early September in Biloxi, Miss., and Houston, Texas.
The planned format for the meetings will allow representatives from academia, industry and environmental organizations to serve as panel members to provide testimony, combined with the opportunity for audience members to provide public comment during the meeting. Additionally, the public will be able to submit comments in person at the meetings, online and by mail.