Curry L. Hagerty Specialist in Energy and Natural Resources
On June 28, 2012, the Department of the
Interior (DOI) submitted to Congress the Proposed Final Five-Year Outer
Continental Shelf Leasing Program for 2012-2017, a forward-looking schedule for
ocean energy development mandated by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
(OCSLA, 43 U.S.C. 1331). This DOI submission to Congress marks the first
substantive demonstration of the department’s new institutional structure
since the Obama Administration overhauled the regulatory framework for
managing ocean energy resources in 2010.
DOI institutional reforms, among other responses to the Gulf of Mexico oil
spill of 2010, were aimed at correcting perceived shortcomings within DOI
by strengthening federal regulatory policies toward drilling safety and
environmental protection. The reforms within DOI took effect on October 1,
2012, creating three DOI agencies:
(1) Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR, pronounced “Honor”), tasked with managing revenue
owed to the government for the use of the public domain for energy and mineral development.
(2) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM, rhymes with “Rome”), tasked with offshore leasing
administration and environmental and economic analysis.
(3) Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE, pronounced “Bessy”), tasked with oversight
and enforcement for field operations, inspections, workforce safety, and decommissioning.
Because ONRR, BOEM, and BSEE were not created by statute, statutory changes
were not needed as part of the DOI reorganization. Legislative action
during the first session of the 112th Congress included House and Senate hearings, first to oversee DOI
permitting for offshore drilling operations and then to examine proposed
legislation aimed at codifying agency reorganization (H.R. 3404, S. 917).
H.R. 3404 was ordered to be reported by the House Committee Natural
Resources on November 17, 2011. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources held hearings on S. 917 (S.Hrg. 112–51). No further legislative
action on these bills has been scheduled.
Stakeholders (energy companies, developers, and state officials engaged in
coastal and marine development) expressed uncertainty prior to the 2010
reorganization about whether, during the transition to the new system, DOI
permitting for offshore operations would stay on track or be disrupted.
Major disruptions stemming from the reorganization have not materialized, but
some uncertainty about the workings of the new agencies remains a concern
for some stakeholders in the aftermath of the reorganization. The
Government Accountability Office (GAO) has undertaken a study to measure
DOI performance since the 2010 reorganization and is expected to provide a
report to Congress in 2013.
Date of Report: July 11, 2012
Number of Pages: 13 Order Number: R42599 Price: $29.95
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