Bye-bye BOEMRE, hello BOEM and BSEE

Monday, October 17, 2011

The federal agency with prime responsibility for ocean energy development has been shuffled yet again.  After just over a year of operations BOEMRE - the former Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement - has been replaced by two offices: the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

This reshuffling is the latest organizational change to the federal oversight of ocean energy development, but it is not the first.  Until 2010, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) regulated both conventional oil and gas production and renewable energy activity.  In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill incident, and criticism of how MMS operated, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar restructured MMS into BOEMRE.

Now, BOEMRE has been split in two, with the division occurring along functional lines.  BOEM describesitself as “responsible for managing environmentally and economicallyresponsible development of the nation’s offshore resources”.  BOEM’s functions include offshore leasing, resource evaluation, review and administration of oil and gas exploration and development plans, renewable energy development, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis and environmental studies.

Under the new paradigm, BSEE is responsible for safety andenvironmental oversight of offshore oil and gas operations, includingpermitting and inspections, of offshore oil and gas operations.  BSEE exercises functions including the development and enforcement of safety and environmental regulations, permitting offshore exploration, development and production, inspections, offshore regulatory programs, oil spill response and newly formed training and environmental compliance programs.

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