The Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior has signed and published Order 3550, which
“implements the President’s Executive Order entitled: ‘implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy’ (April 28, 2017); enhances opportunities for energy exploration, leasing, and development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS); establishes regulatory certainty for OCS activities; and enhances conservation stewardship, thereby providing jobs, energy security, and revenue for the American people.”
The Secretary’s Order takes a number of steps to expedite offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction. These steps include ordering the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to:
“( 1) Immediately initiate development of a new “Five-Year Outer Continental
Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program”, with full consideration given to leasing the OCS offshore Alaska, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico, in conformity with the provisions of OCSLA as directed by the President’s Executive Order.”
“(2) In cooperation with the National Marine Fisheries Service, undertake the following activities: (i) establish a plan to expedite consideration of lncidental Take Authorization requests, including Incidental Harassment Authorizations and Letters of Authorization, that may be needed for seismic survey permits and other OCS activities; and (ii) develop and implement a streamlined permitting approach for privately-funded seismic data research and collection aimed at expeditiously determining the offshore energy resource potential of the United States.”
“3) Expedite consideration of appealed, new, or resubmitted seismic permitting applications for the Atlantic.”
The Secretary’s order further requires BOEM to “promptly complete”:
“BOEM’s previously announced review of Notice to Lessees (NTL) No. 2016- NOl ‘Notice to Lessees and Operators of Federal Oil and Gas, and Sulfur Leases, and Holders of Pipeline Right-of-Way and Right-of-Use and Easement Grants in the Outer Continental Shelf” (September 12, 2016), and provide to the Assistant Secretary – Land and Minerals Management (ASLM), the Deputy Secretary, and Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy, a report describing the results of the review and options for revising or rescinding NTL No. 2016-NOl.
The Secretary also orders the Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement to
“(1) Promptly review the final rule on “Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf-Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control” for consistency with the policy set forth in section 2 of the Executive Order, as well as all policies, rules, guidance, instructions, notices, or other implementing actions that have been adopted or are in the process of being developed relating thereto.”
“(2) Within 21 days of the issuance of this Order, provide to ASLM, Deputy Secretary, and Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy a report summarizing the review and providing recommendations on whether to suspend, revise, or rescind the rule.”
The Secretary’s Order further states that:
“The BSEE and BOEM are also to undertake the following action: Promptly review the final rule entitled ‘Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations on the Outer Continental Shelf-Requirements for Exploratory Drilling on the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf,’ 81 Federal Register 46478 (July 15, 2016), for consistency with the policy set forth in section 2 of the Executive Order and, within 21days of the date of this Order, provide to ASLM, Deputy
Secretary, and Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy a report summarizing the review and providing recommendations on whether to suspend, revise, or rescind the rule.”
In order to coordinate these actions, the Secretary’s Order establishes
“within the Secretary’s Immediate Office the position of Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy. The Deputy Secretary, ASLM, and ASFWP will coordinate with the Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy in implementing this Order.”
The Secretary’s Order contains other important provisions. Click here to read the entire Order.
Subsequent to the Secretary issuing this Order, Interior published a press release announcing that “it will move forward to resume its evaluation of applications from six companies seeking permits to conduct geological and geophysical (G&G) activities in the Atlantic Ocean…” Click here to read the entire press release.
Former President Obama removed the Atlantic from offshore oil and gas leasing. President Trump rescinded this ban. Click here to read several environmental groups’ recently filed court challenge to President Trump’s action reinstating offshore oil and gas leasing in the Atlantic and Arctic.