Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oil companies fought stricter regulations

Updated 5/10/2010 4:48 PM

By Alan Levin, USA TODAY
The company that owns the offshore well spewing crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico and other major oil companies spearheaded a campaign to thwart a government plan to impose tighter regulations aimed at preventing similar disasters, according to government records.

Tighter regulations would have required that drillers perform independent audits and hazard assessments designed to reduce accidents caused by human errors, but the federal Minerals Management Service (MMS) has so far not imposed the rules in the face of near unanimous opposition from oil companies.

Oil executives — including BP, which leased the rig that exploded April 20 — argued that the industry had a solid environmental record and most companies had voluntarily adopted similar safeguards to protect against a major spill. They also said the new rules would have been too costly.

Since the spill, BP has changed its position on the MMS proposal, BP spokesman Andrew Gowers said. The company expects tighter safety rules and will not oppose them, he said.

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