Clinic Releases Report on Access to Information in Offshore Drilling

The Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic released a new report, Offshore Drilling: Coordinating and Improving Access to Information, which recommends mechanisms for facilitating public access to, and intra- and inter-agency sharing of, information from companies engaged in offshore drilling. The Clinic focused specifically on the accessibility of information collected by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) because of BSEE’s central role in overseeing offshore safety and environmental protection.

In the report, the Clinic identifies a number of obstacles to public and agency access to the information reported to BSEE under its regulations, and that such unnecessarily restricted public access frustrates meaningful public oversight of safety and environmental impacts. Further, the Clinic found that while BSEE’s regulations require collaboration among agencies, they do not mandate information-sharing. The Clinic made several recommendations, including that BSEE should issue guidance confirming that it will apply a presumption of public access to, and need for, non-confidential information relevant to safety and environmental impacts of offshore drilling; increase the scope of, and accessibility to, material posted on its public website; revise its reporting forms; and create a centralized reporting system to facilitate aggregation of information collected by all of the agencies with jurisdiction in a single and searchable system available to the public and all interested regulators.

Clinic students Daniel Brasil Becker, JD’14 and Maria Parra-Orlandoni, JD’15 contributed to the research, analysis and preparation of this report, under the supervision of Clinic Director Wendy Jacobs and Clinical Instructor Aladdine Joroff.

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