US restricts categorical environmental permits for offshore development

The use of categorical exclusions for OCS exploration and drilling will be restricted pending a review of regulations, according to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement Director Michael R. Bromwich.

Offshore staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The use of categorical exclusions for OCS exploration and drilling will be restricted pending a review of regulations, according to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement Director Michael R. Bromwich.

Bromwich says BOEM will issue a notice of its intent in the Federal Register and will include information on the formal process for review and evaluation of categorical exclusions for offshore oil and gas operations.

DoI also plans a new environmental analysis of the GoM to use in future leasing and development decisions.

Limited use of the exclusions will allow BOEM to issue new permits for shallow water activity once operators “provide additional information about potential blowout scenarios and implement additional safety measures for rigs and platforms.” Bromwich also instructed the BOEM not to use categorical exclusions to issue new deepwater drilling permits after the current moratorium is lifted.

The categorical exclusions are part of the National Environmental Protection Act and were designed to reduce the amount of paperwork and delay associated with NEPA compliance.

08/17/2010

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