California Members Introduce Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act

June 22, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) along with Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-2) and Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-24) introduced the Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act of 2015 (H.R. 2824). H.R. 2824 would extend whistleblower protections to employees working on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) performing oil and gas exploration, drilling, production, or oil spill cleanup. Currently, there are no federal protections for OCS workers.

“Workers on the Deepwater Horizon knew something was wrong long before the explosion sunk the rig and oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico. Yet, the fear of being fired kept them from reporting dangerous workplace conditions. My district is home to several oil refineries, and our community knows firsthand the long lasting impact of preventable accidents. We can’t stand by and watch one more person die for fear of being fired for reporting a problem. Whether on land or at sea, we should do everything possible to protect the safety, health, and livelihood of our workers,” said DeSaulnier. 

“Five years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, it’s time we ensured workers that come forward to report serious health and safety violations are protected from retaliation,” Huffman said. “This bill will help save lives and protect the environment from future disasters.”

“The reality is that oil and gas production is a dirty and dangerous business, regardless of whether it is done onshore or offshore,” said Capps. “The men and women working on offshore platforms know this better than anyone. These workers have no whistle-blower protections today, and given the hazards, they should be protected by the highest standards of workplace safety if they report concerns about health and safety conditions on these platforms.”

Specifically, H.R. 2824 would prohibit an employer from discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee who reports to the employer or a federal or state government official that he or she reasonably believes the employer is violating the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). It also protects covered employees who report injuries or unsafe conditions related to the offshore work, refuse to work based on a good faith belief that the offshore work could cause injury or impairment or a spill, or refuse to perform work in a manner that they believe violates the OCSLA.