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Criticism of Offshore Drilling Rule Foreshadows Legal Fights

Bracewell Partner Kevin Ewing, who is at the forefront of counseling clients with offshore matters and administrative procedure challenges, recently discussed with Bloomberg BNA proposed changes coming from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

Critics and 10 state attorneys general expressed concerns with proposed changes coming from BSEE to the 2016 Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control Rule. The BSEE released its proposed revisions “as a way to make the regulations more efficient, especially by eliminating redundant requirements, without a reduction in safety.” But opponents say the “BSEE fails to disclose any of the analysis or data on which other revisions in the proposed rule are based,” which could be a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

“The APA does not establish a kind of quantum of data that is a minimum to support regulatory action,” Ewing told Bloomberg BNA. “Nor does the APA insist that the information in support of a regulatory action be data. It can be qualitative. It can also be policy-driven.”

The APA “is often used to challenge regulations, but its procedural requirements are debatable.”

This sets the stage for legal challenges to any BSEE action.

Read the full article here.