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Sen. Bill Nelson threatens to block Trump from dismantling offshore drilling rules

010318 Bill Nelson Block Drilling Safety Rollback pic
"The BP spill devastated my state's economy and 11 people lost their lives," Nelson said on the Senate floor Wednesday. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday he intends to introduce a resolution to stop the Trump administration from dismantling safety rules created after the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Florida Democrat said he plans to use the Congressional Review Act, which allows for a streamlined process for Congress to overturn federal regulations. The act requires majority approval in the House and Senate as well as the president's signature.

Republicans made frequent use of the Congressional Review Act in President Trump’s early days in office to overturn Obama administration regulations.

“The BP spill devastated my state's economy and 11 people lost their lives,” Nelson said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “That's why I plan to subject this misguided rule to the Congressional Review Act.”

Nelson cannot introduce the resolution until the Trump administration finalizes its proposed changes to the offshore drilling rules created by the Obama administration. And since Trump would have to sign the resolution, it is unlikely to take effect.

The Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which regulates offshore oil and natural gas drilling, issued its proposed changes on Friday, opening a 30-day public comment period.

Among the proposed changes, BSEE would eliminate a provision requiring third-party inspectors of certain safety equipment — such as a blowout preventer device — be certified by the bureau.

The blowout preventer device broke at the bottom of the sea in the Deepwater Horizon incident, spewing almost 4 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The 2010 spill was caused by BP's lack of maintenance of the blowout valve. The device is meant to prevent a surge in pressure from causing catastrophic explosions and spills.

The safety bureau in its proposed changes also would reduce the threshold for which certified professional engineers review drawings of a driller’s safety equipment.

BSEE wants to mandate that process for only the “most critical documents.”