Dems to Interior: No ‘rubber-stamping’ offshore oil drilling

By Heather Richards | 04/18/2024 01:27 PM EDT

The lawmakers pointed to the categorical exclusions used to permit Deepwater Horizon before the 2010 oil rig blowout that killed 11 workers and caused an 87-day oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns.

Oil leaks in the Gulf of Mexico southeast of Venice on Louisiana's tip, as the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns April 21, 2010. Gerald Herbert/AP

Leading Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee inked a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Thursday calling for an immediate end to “rubber-stamping” approvals for offshore oil drilling.

The letter, signed by ranking member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and three others, refers to “categorical exclusions,” which allow oil and gas companies to avoid a lengthy process of environmental review to approve their development plans offshore. Critics have long said the exclusions can shortcut robust environmental review.

The letter falls two days before the 14-year anniversary of the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history: the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and caused an oil leak that lasted for 87 days.


The lawmakers note in their letter that using categorical exclusions in permitting the Deepwater Horizon project was flagged in 2011 as a contributing factor in a flawed environmental review process, after an investigation by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.