Marine Minerals Program
Dunes and grasses leading to the beach
BOEM is the Department of the Interior bureau tasked with managing the extraction of offshore
minerals from the United States Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). While the largest component of BOEM’s
mission is the exploration for and development of oil and gas resources, the bureau is also responsible
for what are loosely referred to as “non-energy minerals” (primarily sand and gravel) -- obtained from
the ocean floor.
Erosion, both continual and episodic (i.e.,
storm events), of the Nation’s beaches,
dunes, barrier islands, and coastal wetlands
is a serious problem that affects natural
resources, energy, defense, and public
infrastructure, as well as economically
important tourism. Beach nourishment and
other coastal restoration projects aim to
address this problem, often using OCS sand
to strengthen or rebuild the coastline.
BOEM is the only federal agency with the
authority, to lease access to these non-
energy resources from the OCS.
As steward for these resources, BOEM must
ensure that the removal of any mineral resources is done in a safe and environmentally sound manner, and that any potential adverse impacts
to the marine, coastal, and/or human environments are avoided or minimized.
BOEM’s Marine Minerals Program was established in 1992. Access to OCS sand resources has been
critical for the long-term success and cost-effectiveness of many shore protection, beach nourishment,
and wetlands restoration projects along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean coasts. By replenishing
beaches with sand from the OCS, the Nation’s coastlines receive crucial resources for the maintenance
of a healthy coastal ecosystem.
Initiatives taken since 2012 have taken a long-term regional approach, with a focus on restoration
planning and building coastal resilience.
Mission of BOEM’s Marine Minerals Program
To facilitate access to and manage the Nation’s Outer
Continental Shelf (OCS) non-energy marine minerals,
particularly sand and gravel, through environmentally
responsible stewardship of resources, prudent
assessments of exploration and leasing activities,
coordination with governmental partners, engagement of
stakeholders, strategic planning, and mission-focused
scientific research to improve decision-making and risk
To serve as the lead federal agency, liaison, and partner
in support of the Nation’s current and long-term interests
in managing OCS non-energy marine minerals, with the
goal of promoting resilient coastal communities, coastal
areas and habitat in an environmentally responsible
For more information about the Marine Minerals Program,
click on the links below.