API discloses industry standards
By Juliet Eilperin
The nation's top oil and gas group has agreed to let the public see dozens of federal offshore drilling rules online for free -- though they'll still have to pay to print them out.
The agreement between the American Petroleum Institute and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement provides a partial fix to a quirk in public disclosure rules when it comes to certain federal regulations. Over several decades, the government has adopted at least 78 API industry standards, word-for-word, in the Federal Register. But to actually obtain the details, citizens had to either purchase them from API or view them in person at either a federal office in Herndon or at the National Archives and Records Administration.
"The American public have the right to review agency regulations that have a direct impact on the oil and gas industry, and to better understand how regulators and inspectors are making decisions that will keep people safer," said Bromwich, who pressed for the change. "I appreciate API President Gerard's willingness to personally meet and work with me to ensure that we have as transparent a process as possible."
But there's a catch -- if you want to print them out, you'll still have to pay for it. API spokesman Eric Wohlschlegel said he did not know the exact cost, but historically it has cost at least $100 to obtain a copy of an API industry standard.
In a statement, Gerard said having copies of a standard that had been incorporated into federal rules "in only a few locations did not meet our industry's goal of transparency. The industry's standards represent our commitment to safe and successful operations and practices. Wider access through online viewing platforms is part of our public commitment."
Once changes to the API Web site are complete, a total of 160 standards -- some of which apply to other oil and gas activities, such as hydraulic fracturing and pipeline safety standards -- will be available online, according to API.
Juliet Eilperin| August 23, 2010; 6:27 PM ET Save & Share:
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