New White House Memorandum on Regulatory Freeze Pending Review

Mr. Reince Priebus, Assistant to the U.S. President and Chief of Staff, has sent a Memorandum dated January 20, 2017, to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies. This Memorandum is entitled Regulatory Freeze Pending Review. It states that

“The President has asked me to communicate to each of you his plan for managing the Federal regulatory process at the outset of his Administration. In order to ensure that the President’s appointees or designees have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations, I ask on behalf of the President that you immediately take the following steps….”

CRE Comments on BOEM’s Revised Application for GOM Take Rules

On January 23, 2017, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed comment with the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service on the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s revised application to NMFS for marine mammal take rules for oil and gas Geological and Geophysical operations in the Gulf of Mexico. CRE’s comments included the following Executive Summary:

The Revised Application violates the Information Quality Act Guidelines (“IQA”).  These IQA violations include but are not limited to BOEM and NMFS’ admitted use of unvalidated, inaccurate and unreliable models to estimate Takes. This use of indisputably bad models results in inaccurate, unreliable and grossly exaggerated Take estimates.

BOEM Publishes ROD for 2017-2022 OCS Leasing Program

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published its Final Record of Decision for the 2017–2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program Final Programmatic EIS.

The ROD schedules 10 sales in the Gulf of Mexico, and 1 sale in Cook Inlet Alaska., staggered over the next five years.

BOEM is directed to “analyze a seasonal restriction on seismic surveys and exploration drilling for Cook Inlet Lease Sale 258.” The ROD also adopts the protection of Biologically Sensitive Underwater Features in the GOM, and the Alaska Conflict Management Plan in the Cook Inlet.

IAGC Article on Obama Decisions that Need Repeal

The International Association of Geophysical Contractors published the following article:

“Undoing the damage done to the nation’s energy future

On its way out the door, the Obama administration has made two short-sighted decisions about the nation’s energy future. First, it withdrew areas in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans from future oil and natural gas leasing opportunities. And then it denied seismic survey permits needed for exploration in the Atlantic even in areas not included in the ban. These are decisions that the incoming Trump administration and Congress should reverse.

The Arctic is Back into Play

The issuance of a final regulation is not necessarily the last word on a public policy issue since it  can always be changed.

In the case of the Arctic drilling, it is going to be revisited by the incoming Administration.   ABC News quotes this statement by the Secretary of the Interior Zinke during his confirmation hearings:

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the Department of Interior said today that he would consider reversing a decision from the Obama administration last year to halt oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, a move that could allow fossil fuel development in region.

NMFS Seeks Comment on Air Force’s Request for MMPA Authorization

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has received a request from the United States Air Force, 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to conducting munitions testing for their Long Range Strike Weapons Systems Evaluation Program over the course of five years, from September 1, 2017 through August 31, 2022. Pursuant to regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS has announced receipt of the 86 FWS’s request for the development and implementation of regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals and inviting information, suggestions, and comments on the 86 FWS’s application and request. Comments and information must be received no later than February 6, 2017.  Click here for more information.

IAGC Criticizes Obama’s Attempt to Permanently Withdraw US Offshore Areas

The International Association of Geophysical Contractors has issued the following press release:

“IAGC States Administration’s Attempt to Permanently Withdraw US Offshore Areas Shows Lack of Insight for Nation’s Energy Independence

Houston, TX— The International Association of Geophysical Contractors President Nikki Martin today issued the following statement on the Obama Administration’s attempt to ban offshore oil and gas development in portions of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans:

The President’s attempt to permanently withdraw offshore areas in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from future oil and gas exploration and development demonstrates a lack of long-term protection of the nation’s security and energy independence and lack of consideration for the rule of law.

IAGC Annual Conference

The International Association of Geophysical Contractors’ 46th Annual Conference will be held Tuesday, February 21, 2017, at 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM. The conference will be held at Schlumberger Facilities, 10001 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX 77042.

Speakers for the 2017 Annual conference include a panel from the Corporate Council on Africa; a panel on regulatory engagement and advocacy, South America; and an industry partner panel.

Click here for registration information.