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New BSEE Director aims to balance environmental sustainability, safety and offshore energy development

By Kelli Ainsworth, Associate Editor

One of the early priorities for Scott Angelle, newly appointed BSEE Director who assumed his role on 24 May, will be to review existing rules and regulations to ensure that they promote offshore safety but don’t create an undue regulatory burden. In a call with members of the media on 1 June, Director Angelle emphasized that he wants to make BSEE an “and” agency, rather than an “or” agency. “How do we implement a safety program and, at the same time, embrace domestic energy production?” he asked. “What I see is that it’s not an either/or proposition.”

Director Angelle stated that he doesn’t view safety, environmental sustainability and energy development as competing interests. “It’s often said that you can’t have too many balls in the air at the same time,” he said. “I think that we can have the safety ball, the environmental ball, the energy production ball and the economic development ball in the air at the same time.”

To ensure that all of these balls remain in the air, Director Angelle said he will be reviewing all of BSEE’s rules and regulations – including the Well Control Rule – to verify that they actually ensure safer offshore operations without negative side effects that hinder energy development. “One of the things I have heard is that sometimes unintended consequences result from well-intentioned rules, so we’ll be taking a look at that.”

During his tenure as interim Lieutenant Governor of his home state of Louisiana in 2010, he helped steer the state through the fallout from Macondo. He believes the drilling moratorium that was issued in response to the blowout and spill is an example of a well-intended but misguided regulatory action. “There seemed to be a conclusion that there was a systemic problem with the OCS,” he said. “With the stroke of a pen, an industry was completely shut down.” Because the moratorium was detrimental to his state’s economy, he said, he worked to get the moratorium lifted after 87 days, rather than six months, as was originally planned.

In addition to reviewing regulations, Director Angelle will be visiting the Gulf Coast during June to meet with industry, local governments and chambers of commerce, and environmental groups. He also plans to visit Alaska. “I’m excited about engaging and listening to what they believe we are doing right, what they believe needs to be looked at again, and bringing their feedback up to Washington,” he said.

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