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®: CRE Regulatory Action of the Week

NOAA Emphasizes Information Quality Act in MOA with Oil Companies
On August 23, 2011, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a press release that NOAA, Shell Exploration & Production, ConocoPhillips, and Statoil USA E&P Inc., have signed a Memorandum of Agreement enhancing their collaboration on ocean, coastal and climate science for the Arctic. A key component of this MOA is compliance with the OMB and NOAA Information Quality Act guidelines.

This MOA states in part:

    "B. The purpose of this Agreement is to provide a framework for collaboration, communication and information-sharing between NOAA and the Industry Parties. The Agreement is intended to build upon existing strong relationships based on common interests, to assist in devising company and agency strategy, and to help manage critical environmental issues efficiently and effectively.

    C. This Agreement will serve as a basis for coordination between NOAA and the Industry Parties to maximize skills, knowledge and resources directed at studies and observations of physical and biological sciences in U.S. Arctic waters, and for sharing the resulting information produced from such studies and observations with the public, in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and procedures, including Office of Management and Budget and NOAA guidelines implementing the Information Quality Act (Section 515 of Public Law 106-554)."
NOAA's press release further emphasizes compliance with the Information Quality Act:
    "NOAA will conduct quality control on all data provided to the agency under this agreement before it is incorporated into NOAA products and services through compliance with OMB and NOAA guidelines implementing the Information Quality Act, for example, through peer review. Consistent with NOAA's commitment to openness and transparency, as highlighted most recently in its draft scientific integrity policy, NOAA will make the data obtained under this agreement available to the public except as limited by a specific annex, and will seek to have as much data as possible publicly available."
NOAA's press release states that NOAA intends to use the MOA to provide
    "a framework among the signatories to share high-quality data to enhance NOAA's ability to monitor climate change and provide useful products and services that inform responsible energy exploration activities in the region. Integrating these types of data could also provide a greater national capacity to effectively manage and respond to environmental disasters, such as hazardous spills, in an area where limited personnel and facilities exist."
The MOA states that it is authorized by
  • the Coast and Geodetic Survey Act, 33 U.S.C. 883a et seq;

  • the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.;

  • the National Weather Service Organic Act, 15 U.S.C. 313;

  • the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, 33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq. ;

  • the Ocean and Coastal Mapping Integration Act, 33 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.; and

  • the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act of 2009, 33 U.S.C. 3601 et seq.
The MOA emphasizes that "This Agreement shall not create legally enforceable rights and cannot be the basis of any legal claim between the Parties."
  • Click here to read MOA
  • Click here to read NOAA Press Release