A new lawsuit by a coalition of environmental groups against the Trump administration was filed in a potentially sympathetic northern California federal court. But the claim’s origins are much closer to home, specifically in the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and sent oil flowing in the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months. The disaster, the plaintiffs allege, “laid bare many critical, pervasive weaknesses in offshore drilling safety regulations, practices, and technology.”
Now they’re suing to stop the Trump administration from rolling back rules on well control and blowout prevention instituted by the Obama administration in response to the spill. And the key official listed on the lawsuit is a familiar name to Louisianans who followed the crisis: Scott Angelle.
Then the interim lieutenant governor appointed by Bobby Jindal after Mitch Landrieu became mayor, Angelle was a vocal opponent of the Obama team’s imposition of a drilling moratorium. Before and since, he established himself as a proponent of the oil and gas industry. A former secretary of Natural Resources under Kathleen Blanco and Jindal, Angelle later served on the Public Service Commission. During his losing campaign for governor in 2015, industry executives made massive donations to a SuperPAC supporting his bid. He has also collected a six-figure payout to serve on a pipeline company’s board.
And after President Donald Trump appointed Angelle to head the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, The Wall Street Journal cast him as a “longtime ally” of the industry that he’d be overseeing and quoted him saying that his goal was not just to enforce safety regulations but also to “drive performance” in the industry and to improve relations with companies that drill.
He seems to be well along the way fulfilling that second part of the mission, anyway. We’ll see what the courts have to say about the first.