Comment to OMB on BOEM’s Plans and Information ICR

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Department of Interior, has sent an Information Collection Request to the Office of Management and Budget for review and possible approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act. This ICR concerns 30 CFR 550, Subpart B, Plans and Information, as well as related Notices to Lessees and Operators (NTLs) that BOEM issues to clarify or provide additional guidance on some aspects of our regulations.

Public comments are due to OMB on this proposed ICR 30 days after date of the ICR notice’s publication in the Federal Register, which is scheduled for March 29, 2018. The information covered by this ICR is discussed in more detail below.

The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Lands Act, as amended (43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq. and 43 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to prescribe rules and regulations to administer leasing of mineral resources on the OCS. Such rules and regulations apply to all operations conducted under a lease, or unit.

The OCS Lands Act, at 43 U.S.C. 1340 and 1351, requires the holders of OCS oil and gas or sulphur leases to submit exploration plans (EPs) and development and production plans (DPPs) to the Secretary for approval prior to commencing these activities. Also, as a Federal agency, BOEM has an affirmative duty to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Compliance with the ESA includes a substantive duty to carry out any agency action in a manner that is not likely to jeopardize protected species, as well as a procedural duty to consult with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries (NOAA Fisheries) before engaging in a discretionary action that may affect a protected species.

The regulations at 30 CFR part 550, subpart B, concern plans and information that must be submitted to conduct activities on a lease or unit, and are the subject of this collection. The collection also covers the related Notices to Lessees and Operators (NTLs) that BOEM issues to clarify or provide additional guidance on some aspects of our regulations.

BOEM geologists, geophysicists, and environmental scientists and other Federal agencies (e.g., USFWS, NOAA Fisheries) analyze and evaluate the information and data  collected under Subpart B to ensure that planned operations are safe; will not adversely affect the marine, coastal, or human environment; and will conserve the resources of the OCS. BOEM uses the information to make an informed decision on whether to approve the proposed EP or DPP as submitted, or require plan modifications. The affected States also review the information collected to determine consistency with approved Coastal Zone Management plans.

In 2016, BOEM published a final rule entitled, “Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations on the Outer Continental Shelf—Requirements for Exploratory Drilling on the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf.” This rule finalized new regulations specific to activities conducted on the Arctic OCS that modify 30 CFR part 550, subpart B. The new regulations require operators to develop an Integrated Operations Plan (IOP) for each exploratory program on the Arctic OCS, as well as to submit additional planning information with the EPs. An additional 3,930 burden hours were approved as part of that rulemaking, and are included in the burden table for this control number. The Secretary’s Order 3350 (May 1, 2017), which further implements the President’s Executive Order entitled, “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” (82 FR 20815, May 3, 2017), directs BOEM to review the final rule. If the Secretary decides that the final determination is to suspend, revise, or rescind the rule, the related burden hours in this OMB control number will be adjusted accordingly.

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