INSTITUTE INDEX: The failure of an obscure federal agency endangers oil rig workers

The deaths of 11 workers in the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 led to the creation of the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, but that agency is failing to carry out its most basic duties, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. (U.S. Coast Guard photo.)

Date on which Roy Miller of Mississippi was killed while performing maintenance on an oil platform owned by Whistler Energy of Houston in the Gulf of Mexico south of New Orleans, an incident now being investigated by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE): 3/11/2016

Date on which the Government Accountability Office released a report warning that poor management at BSEE caused it to fail to carry out its most basic functions, such as completing a policy outlining investigative responsibilities and procedures: 3/11/2016

Number of rig workers killed in BP's Gulf disaster in 2010, leading to the dismantling of the industry-captured Minerals Management Service and the creation of BSEE and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to oversee offshore leasing: 11

Factor by which an offshore oil and gas worker is more likely to die on the job than the average U.S. worker: 7

Average fatality rate per 100,000 U.S. workers overall: 3.7

Average fatality rate per 100,000 U.S. offshore oil and gas workers: 25.1

Month in which WWL-TV of New Orleans filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for records related to BSEE's Environmental Enforcement Division, which it still has not received: 3/2015

Month in which WWL-TV obtained internal government documents showing BSEE's Washington leadership had blocked the hiring of staff, leaving the Environmental Enforcement Division overwhelmed with paperwork and unable to conduct investigations: 9/2015

Number of directors BSEE has had in its five years of existence: 3

Year in which an agreement was reached to settle a lawsuit brought by an environmental group against BSEE over its failure to provide documents related to offshore fracking under the Freedom of Information Act: 2015

Dollars that have been spent to build the Environmental Enforcement Division to serve drilling operations nationwide even while the program has been downgraded to a local branch: millions

Date on which BSEE's current director told a U.S. House subcommittee that the agency tweaked proposed new rules on deepwater drilling safety to placate concerns from oil industry players: 3/2/2016

(Click on figure to go to source.)