On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to begin the process of moving to regulate the DeepWater Horizon oil pipeline, which spilled over the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, killing 11 people and destroying millions of dollars of oil infrastructure.
Under the order, the Environmental Protection Agency, which has been charged with protecting public health and the environment, would take over the regulation of the pipeline from the federal government.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.
But the order is a stark contrast to the administration’s handling of the Keystone XL pipeline, an ambitious project that was rejected by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2010.
The two pipelines were never intended to cross each other.
Instead, they were designed to be shipped through multiple states and, at the time, were designed for transporting crude oil from Canada’s tar sands region.
The U.S. Congress rejected the project in 2011.
While the Keystone and Deepwater were both built by Canadian companies, their impacts have been very different.
Keystone was designed to transport oil sands, while the Deep water pipeline, like the Deepwell oil spill, was designed for refining crude oil.
Keystone, like its predecessor, was built to carry heavy crude oil, while Deepwater was built for light crude oil and petrochemical products.
In 2010, a group of scientists at the University of Texas at Austin estimated that the Deep Water spill caused a cumulative loss of about $30 billion to the U. S. economy.
By the end of 2015, that figure had risen to more than $100 billion.
Pruitt has repeatedly stated that the EPA will be able to take over oversight of the pipelines, a position the administration has repeatedly rejected.
“The president has made it clear that he will not allow the EPA to be run by bureaucrats who have no experience in the oil industry, or any experience in our environmental laws, or in our nation’s public health or our public safety,” Pruitt said Friday.
“He’s committed to the principles of the Clean Air Act, and the EPA’s role is to enforce our nation and its laws, not to be politically influenced by special interests.”
In a letter to Trump, the American Petroleum Institute (API) urged him to put the pipeline back on the market, and to appoint “independent, credible, and transparent” federal regulators to oversee it.
The API also urged the president to “immediately withdraw all federal government involvement” in the project.
As part of its request, the API requested that Pruitt appoint “a senior environmental official to oversee and supervise the implementation of EPA’s existing rules, and then provide recommendations to the president and Congress to ensure that the new regulations comply with the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.”
Pubert also asked Trump to appoint a director of the EPA, a job that would be “an essential component of the transition to the new administration.”