Regulatory Reform

In response to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama Administration launched the most aggressive and comprehensive reforms to offshore oil and gas regulation and oversight in U.S. history. The reforms, which strengthen requirements for everything from well design and workplace safety to corporate accountability, are helping ensure that the United States can safely and responsibly expand development of its energy resources. 


In selecting Michael R. Bromwich to lead the Bureau in June 2010, President Barack Obama and Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar issued a mandate: to reform the government’s regulation of offshore energy development and the agency responsible for it. Under the leadership of Secretary Salazar and Director Bromwich, the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Bureau made the fundamental changes necessary to restore the American people’s confidence in the safety and environmental protection of oil and gas drilling and production on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, ensuring that responsible oil and gas development continues. 

The reorganization and internal reforms that were implemented were designed to remove the complex and sometimes conflicting missions of the former MMS by clarifying and separating these missions across three agencies and providing each of the new agencies with clear areas of focus and new resources necessary to fulfill those missions: 

  • The Bureau implemented a new recusal policy for BOEM employees to deal with real and perceived conflicts of interest. 
  • Secretary Salazar and Director Bromwich launched a full review of the use of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), categorical exclusions, during which they are not being used to approve proposed deepwater drilling projects. 
  • As part of the reorganization, BOEM has created multiple Implementation Teams, tasked with analyzing various aspects of bureau’s regulatory structure and helping to implement the reform agenda. 
  • BOEM believes that public input is critical as we safely explore and develop offshore resources. Public comment is solicited in our environmental review programs for both oil and gas and renewable energy proposals. This is critical to science-based decision making that is transparent and accessible.