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Structural Changes at the Interior Department

Analysis by Energy Workforce President Tim Tarpley

Energy Workforce President Tim Tarpley

Energy Workforce companies that operate offshore will be interested in the announcement this week that the Interior Department has shifted responsibility for offshore renewable energy-related safety and environmental protections to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The change is released in a final rulemaking “advances regulatory clarity and transparency for the offshore wind industry,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel-Davis said in a statement this week.

BSEE will now be in charge of 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.

BOEM will retain authority in 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.

Of particular note is this regulatory reorganization does not create any new reporting requirements or regulatory burdens, the move is entirely organizational in nature.

DOE Rejects Proposals to Refill Strategic Petroleum Reserve

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is currently at its lowest level since 1984. Despite this fact, the U.S. Department of Energy has rejected the first batch of bids from oil companies to resupply a small amount of oil to the nation’s emergency crude oil stockpile in February.

In December, DOE said it would purchase up to three million barrels for delivery to the SPR in February, the first purchase since last year’s record 180-million-barrel release.

“Following review of the initial submission, DOE will not be making any award selections for the February delivery window,” a DOE spokesman said in an emailed statement.  It is unclear if DOE plans to solicit another series of bids or if they intend to wait until prices go lower.

The SPR is intended to serve as an emergency stockpile of oil in the event of a large scale worldwide disruption. Given the number of potential flashpoints around the world, concern has been growing by some in Congress of maintaining the SPR at such low levels. 

Tim Tarpley, President, analyzes federal policy for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Energy Workforce newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, activities and more.



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