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DOI shifts some safety oversight of offshore renewable energy facilities to BSEE

Photo: Blue Planet Studio/iStockphoto

Washington — The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement will govern workplace safety and environmental compliance at offshore renewable energy facilities on the Outer Continental Shelf, according to the Department of the Interior.

BSEE assumes the duty from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Effective upon publication in the Federal Register, the transfer of regulations is part of a final rule that “does not make substantive changes to current regulatory requirements” or impose additional regulatory burdens, BSEE says in a press release.

DOI established BSEE and BOEM in 2011 as part of a restructuring of the Minerals Management Service after the April 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the coast of Louisiana. The blast and ensuing fire killed 11 workers and injured dozens more.

DOI acknowledges that the scopes of the agencies have evolved in the past decade-plus. In a notice to lessees, the department says the regulations to be transferred to BSEE include:

  • 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
  • Overseeing decommissioning activities

Meanwhile, BOEM will retain certain duties:

  • 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

“Over the past several months, BOEM and BSEE have taken steps to ensure a seamless transition of functions related to safety and environmental protections for the offshore renewable energy program,” Laura Daniel-Davis, principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management at DOI, said in the release.

“This rule advances regulatory clarity and transparency for the offshore wind industry. It allows the bureaus to focus on ensuring that future clean energy development and operations continue to occur in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.”

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