Representatives DeSaulnier, Scott, and Takano Call for Hearing to Protect Workers on the Outer Continental Shelf

June 11, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Democratic Members of the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee, Representative Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Ranking Member of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee Mark Takano (CA-41), and Committee Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) called on Republican Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (NC-05) to convene a hearing and markup for the Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act (H.R. 4304).

H.R. 4304, authored by DeSaulnier, would extend whistleblower protections to employees working on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) performing oil and gas exploration, drilling, production, or oil spill cleanup, who currently have no protections. The call comes eight years after the blast on the Deep Water Horizon drilling rig, which resulted in 11 deaths and seriously injured 17 others – a catastrophe that could have been avoided or lessened if a whistleblower had been empowered to come forward.

“As an inherently dangerous work location and line of work generally, these workers are exposed to threats daily that they are uniquely qualified to identify,” wrote the Members. “The recommendation to the U.S. Department of the Interior in the report following the Deepwater Horizon explosion made it clear that whistleblower protections were essential for the future safety of workers on the Outer Continental Shelf.”

According to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), more than 1,400 injuries, 13 fatalities, and 324 evacuations or musters occurred from Fiscal Years 2011 through 2016. In February 2018, the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), the only federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents, urged the Education and Workforce Committee in a letter to consider “enacting legislation to provide clear and unambiguous authority for a Federal agency to take appropriate actions to discourage adverse action against employees who take safety actions and to establish a means of redress for employees who suffer retaliation as a result.” The letter also indicated that H.R. 4304 would make the necessary changes.

“America’s workers in the Outer Continental Shelf deserve the same protections extended to others,” the Members concluded.

A full text of the letter can be found here.