BOEM Seeks Comment and Schedules Public Hearings on Cook Inlet EIS

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Cook Inlet Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Lease Sale 244. After the public hearings and written comments on the Draft EIS have been reviewed and considered, a Final EIS will be prepared.

The proposed action addressed in this Draft EIS is to conduct an oil and gas lease sale on portions of the Cook Inlet Outer Continental Shelf Planning Area. Lease Sale 244 would provide qualified bidders the opportunity to bid on OCS blocks in Cook Inlet to gain conditional rights to explore, develop, and produce oil and natural gas.

BOEM Publishes Its ROD for Gulf of Mexico Western Planning Area Oil and Gas Lease Sale 248

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published its Record of Decision for proposed oil and gas WPA Lease Sale 248. This Record of Decision identifies the Bureau’s selected alternative for proposed WPA Lease Sale 248, which is analyzed in the Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sale: 2016; Western Planning Area Lease Sale 248 Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (WPA 248 Supplemental EIS). BOEM has selected the proposed action, which is identified as BOEM’s preferred alternative (Alternative A) in the WPA 248 Supplemental EIS.

The Record of Decision and associated information are available on the agency’s Website below.

API and IAGC Expose the Bias in the  NOAA Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap

Editor’s Note: Subsequent to the publication of the following  post CRE received a letter from a representative of the Secretary of Commerce in which the author described the ongoing review of issues raised by CRE.  CRE looks forward to the  aforementioned  analysis with a particular emphasis on CRE’s claim that the peer reviews conducted by NOAA do not meet the requirements of a Highly Influential Scientific Assessment as set forth in NOAA and OMB DQA guidelines.

The Need for Programmatic Reform 

NOAA is working on four regulatory programs which if finalized in their current form will seriously curtail if not lead to the eventual termination of offshore drilling in US waters.

BOEM Announces Updated Financial Assurance and Risk Management Requirements for Offshore Leases

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management notified companies holding oil and gas leases in federal waters that BOEM is updating financial assurance and risk management requirements for decommissioning and removing a company’s offshore production facilities.

BOEM’s new Notice to Lessees and Operators details new procedures to determine a lessee’s ability to carry out its lease obligations — primarily the decommissioning of Outer Continental Shelf facilities — and whether to require lessees to furnish additional financial assurance.

NMFS Issues Take Authorization for Cook Inlet Seismic

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued regulations governing related Letters of Authorization in response to a request from Apache Alaska Corporation for authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to its oil and gas exploration seismic survey program in Cook Inlet, Alaska. According to NMFS, “This action will put the applicant into compliance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and minimize impacts to marine mammals in Cook Inlet.” These regulations are effective August 19, 2016 through July 20, 2021.

Click here for NMFS’ Federal Register notice of these regulations, which contains additional detail about them and NMFS’ response to comments on them.

Interior Publishes Final New Arctic Drilling Rules

The U.S. Department of the Interior has published final new drilling rules for oil and gas in the U.S. Arctic Outer Continental Shelf. These Arctic-specific regulations focus solely on OCS exploratory drilling operations from floating vessels within the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.


Among other requirements, the new rules require “operators to develop an Integrated Operations Plan addressing all phases of a proposed Arctic OCS exploration program and submit it to BOEM in advance of filing an Exploration Plan. The regulations require companies to have access to – and the ability to promptly deploy – source control and containment equipment, such as capping stacks and containment domes, while drilling below or working below the surface casing.

BSEE Increases Maximum Civil Penalty Amounts

The U.S. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement published the following article on its website:

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) announced today that the maximum civil penalty rate for Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) violations will increase from $40,000 to $42,017 a day for each violation. This legislatively mandated increase is contained in an interim final rule which is effective July 28, 2016.

‘BSEE uses civil penalties as an enforcement tool to deter unsafe practices that are not in compliance with regulations,’ said BSEE Director Brian Salerno. ‘We review penalty rates annually to make sure they keep pace with inflation. This ensures they remain a mechanism that emphasizes to industry the importance of safe and environmentally responsible operations.’

CRE Comments on NOAA’s draft Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap

On July 1, 2016, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness submitted comments on NOAA’s draft Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap. CRE’s comments included the following points:

Ÿ – Information Quality Act (“IQA”) compliance is required for all NOAA-disseminated information;

Ÿ – All models used by NOAA must be properly validated, which includes verification through comparison with empirical data; and

Ÿ – The draft Roadmap should be corrected and revised to explain that NOAA’s new acoustic threshold guidance was developed in violation of OMB’s Peer Review Bulletin requirements, and in violation of NOAA’s IQA Guideline, and should not be used in its current state.

CRE Comments to NAS Offshore Science Committee on OMB Peer Review and Data Quality Requirements

On July 11-12, the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Offshore Science and Assessment will meet.  During this meeting, the Committee will be briefed on peer review by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The current agenda for this meeting does not mention the Office of Management and Budget’s Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review. Peer review at BOEM and at most other federal agencies must comply with the OMB Peer Review Bulletin.

Consequently, on July 7, 2016, the CRE filed with NAS a brief memo on OMB’s peer review and other data quality requirements.  The CRE memo relies heavily on discussion of these OMB requirements in two previous NAS reports.

BSEE Working with Arctic Council on Environmental Stewardship

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement posted the following article on the BSEE website:

“MONTREAL – To advance environmental stewardship in the Arctic, three senior Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) officials traveled to Montreal June 13-15 for meetings in support of the Arctic Council. BSEE’s Oil Spill Preparedness Division Chief David M. Moore participated in the Arctic Council’s Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response (EPPR) Work Group meeting as part of the U.S. Delegation, which included U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Department of Energy (DOE) representatives. Moore was joined by BSEE’s Alaska Region Director Mark Fesmire and Regulations and Standards Branch Chief Lakeisha Harrison at a workshop in Montreal leading up to the EPPR meeting.”