Dec. 21, 2017

Statement on Stop-Work Order for National Academies Study on the Department of the Interior’s Offshore Oil and Gas Operations Inspection Program

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has ordered the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to suspend all work on a study to review and update the bureau’s offshore oil and gas operations inspection program to enhance safety.  The stop-work order, dated Dec. 7, says that within 90 days the stop-work order will either be lifted and work on the study can resume, or the contract to perform the study will be terminated.  The committee conducting the study held its first and only meeting (to date) in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 26-27.  Future meetings planned to be held in the Gulf of Mexico region have been put on hold.  The National Academies are grateful to the committee members for their service and disappointed that their important study has been stopped.

This is the second National Academies study halted by DOI in the last four months. In August, a study on the potential health effects for people living near surface coal mining sites in Central Appalachia was stopped pending a review of contracts by DOI.  The National Academies have not received any update on the status of that review and the study remains on hold.  Given how important this study is to the citizens and communities surrounding these surface mining sites in Appalachia, the National Academies believe the study should be completed and are exploring options to do so.  Some private donors have expressed an interest in funding the completion of the study.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.

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