The U.S. Department of Interior’s (DOI ’s) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (Bureau) and the U.S. Coast Guard have issued a proposed rule that would impose more stringent requirements on offshore oil and gas drilling. 76 Fed. Reg. 56,683 (9/14/11). The proposed rule would (i) require third-party audits of Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS ), (ii) allow any worker to halt work on an oil rig or other facility if the worker witnesses an activity that threatens the environment or safety, (iii) allow any worker to report a possible environmental or safety violation and request an investigation, and (iv) require clear delineation on who has the ultimate authority for a facility’s safety decisions at any given time.

Following the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, the Bureau issued a SEMS rule that requires offshore operators to systematically identify risks and establish barriers to those risks. 75 Fed. Reg. 63,610 (10/15/10). That rule will be enforced beginning in November 2011. Known as SEMS II , the current proposed rule, which amends and adds to SEMS , will be available for public comment until October 14, 2011.