The Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic submitted comments today on the Department of the Interior’s (“DOI”) proposed regulations for offshore exploratory oil drilling in the Arctic.  The Emmett Clinic supported the agency’s proposals to require that operators maintain a secondary drill rig in the Arctic to respond to potential losses of well control and that operators have prompt access to, and immediately deploy, source control and containment equipment in the event of an oil spill.

The Clinic also identified areas in which the proposal could be improved.  In particular, the Clinic criticized DOI’s reliance on a performance-based standard for the secondary drill rig requirement.  The Clinic proposed that the regulations should instead mandate that a relief rig always be available within a minimum distance from the drill site, while still including a performance-based standard as a backstop.  In addition, the Clinic suggested several ways that the regulations could be changed to improve public access to information and provide better opportunities for public participation in the regulatory process.  The comments were part of the Emmett Clinic’s on-going focus on the impacts of offshore drilling, especially in the Arctic.

Clinic student James Zhu, JD ’16, took the leading role in drafting the comments.  Abhishek Banerjee-Shukla, JD ’15, and Pradeep Singh, LLM ’15 also contributed to them.  The students worked under the supervision of Clinic Director Wendy Jacobs and Senior Clinical Instructor Shaun Goho.