Seismic Research Permitting Failures Needs To Be Addressed By Legislation, House Committee Says

“The House Natural Resources Committee probed how issues with offshore seismic research permitting can hinder oil and natural gas development on the outer continental shelf during a subcommittee hearing on Friday.

The federal permitting process for geological and geophysical (G&G) surveying that spans multiple federal agencies and the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources explored how it could be hindering research and development.

Walter Cruickshank, acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM), testified that “critically important” geological and geophysical data does more than support oil and gas development. It also impacts renewable energy, coastal restoration, and planning for natural disasters, he said.

However, a Government Accountability Office report released in December indicated that intentional delays and political decisions appeared to contribute to permitting failures.

“Under the Obama administration, there were six G&G permits that were essentially yanked from the applicants for purely political reasons,” U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), chairman of the subcommittee, said. “Failure to properly process these permits, and failure to develop a proper path forward for future permits, keeps our country in the dark about our offshore resources, hindering our nation’s ability to make informed, long-term leasing decisions.”

Ryan Steen, a representative of the International Association of Geophysical Contractors, said the permit denial was an “abrupt political decision, on the eve of a new presidency, to summarily deny all permit applications. BOEM has since correctly reinstated the permit applications, which remain under agency review.”

Steen added that “ambiguous, outed[sic] and unclear language” and an arcane permitting process were the “primary cause of administrative delay” in offshore seismic research permitting.

The Trump Administration announced in May that it would reconsider the six permits. Additionally, the House Natural Resources Committee approved a legislative package in November that would bring regulatory certainty and clarity to offshore seismic permitting processes.”


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