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The US Department of the Interior has announced the transfer of regulations governing offshore renewable energy activities – including workplace safety and environmental compliance – from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).
 
In 2011, the Department formally established BOEM and BSEE as new bureaus to carry out its offshore energy management, safety and environmental oversight missions. The establishment of BOEM and BSEE marked the culmination of an effort to reorganise the former Minerals Management Service following the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. As part of that reorganization, oversight of offshore renewable energy, then an emerging industry, was assigned to BOEM.
 
The action recognizes that the scopes of the bureaus’ roles and responsibilities have matured over the last decade and supports the Department’s commitment to independent regulatory oversight and enforcement in the renewable energy program.
 
The rulemaking does not make substantive changes to current regulatory requirements, nor does it impose additional regulatory burdens.
 
Key authorities transferred to BSEE include, but are not limited to: 
  • Evaluating and overseeing facility design, fabrication, installation, safety management systems and oil spill response plans;
  • Enforcing operational safety through inspections, incident reporting, and investigations;
  • Enforcing compliance, including safety and environmental compliance, with all applicable laws, regulations, leases, grants, and approved plans through notices of noncompliance, cessation orders, civil penalties, and other appropriate means; and
  • Overseeing decommissioning activities.
 
Regulatory authority for the following functions remains with BOEM:
  • Determining areas suitable for siting offshore wind energy facilities;
  • Issuing leases, easements and rights-of-way for activities that produce or support the production, transportation, or transmission of offshore energy or energy resources;  
  • Reviewing and approving or approving with modifications or disapproving plans, including construction and operations plans, site assessment plans, and general activities plans, required for authorizing offshore renewable energy development; and
  • Conducting analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental studies and incorporating mitigation measures into plan approvals to avoid or minimize harm to the marine, coastal, or human environments. 
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