Environmental Operations Section (EOS)
All post–lease National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347, as amended analysis of OCS plans and permit applications tier from NEPA evaluations performed for GOM OCS oil and gas lease sales, which at any point constitute the most robust analysis of BOEM’s regulated activities. The tiering concept is a recognized component of the NEPA regulation (40 C.F.R. Part 1500). Tiering under NEPA refers to a more limited and site-specific environmental evaluation that is placed in our text beneath a broader environmental evaluation in order to avoid unnecessary repetitions.
- After acquiring a lease the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) 43 U.S.C. 1301-1356, as amended requires an operator to pursue planning to develop their lease. In compliance with NEPA and other environmental regulatory/policy guidelines, Environmental Operations Section (EOS) staff are responsible for reviews of:
- Exploration Plans (EPs) - Operators planning exploration activities for a specific lease(s) describe their proposed activities in an EP. These plans report the timing of these activities, information concerning drilling vessels, the location of each well, and an analysis of both offshore and onshore impacts that may occur as a result of the plan’s implementation.
- Developmental Operations Coordination Documents (DOCDs) - The GOM is a mature oil and gas province and our regulations provide for a specific type of development planning document called a DOCD in the Gulf’s Western and Central Planning Areas. These plans describe development and production activities proposed by an operator for a lease or group of leases. The description includes the timing of these activities, information concerning drilling vessels, the location of each proposed well, surface production platform or other subsurface structure, and an analysis of both offshore and onshore impacts that may occur as a result of the plan’s implementation.
- Development/Production Plans (DPPs) - Parts of the OCS are not mature with development and except in designated planning areas (see DOCD above) the development planning document that is required on all other parts of the OCS is the DPP. The information requirements for a DPP are virtually the same as those for a DOCD. A DPP would be required, for example, in the Gulf’s Eastern Planning Area or in the Atlantic Planning Areas.
- Pipeline Applications - Operators seeking to install a lease-term pipeline (on a lease) or a pipeline right-of-way grant (to cross parts of the OCS that are unleased) provide an application that includes engineering drawings and design specifications for the proposed pipeline and the results of a shallow hazards survey along the proposed route.
- Geological and Geophysical (G&G) Applications - A variety of G&G techniques are used to characterize the seafloor surface, shallow subsurface, and deep structure of the OCS before a lease is acquired and as part of the later development activities on a lease. These data are needed for: (1) hydrocarbon exploration and production; (2) siting renewable energy structures; (3) locating potential sand and gravel resources; (4) identifying possible seafloor or shallow-depth geologic hazards that may pose a hazard for drilling or facility installation and (5) locating potential archaeological resources and potentially sensitive benthic biological communities so that these resources are avoided.
- Structure-Removal Applications - Operators emplace a range of temporary and permanent structures on and within the seafloor during the exploration, development, and production operations that may take place on their lease. Operators must remove seafloor obstructions from their leases within one year of lease termination or after a structure has been deemed obsolete or unusable.
- EOS staff determines the level of NEPA analysis required for these proposed OCS activities, determines what resources may be impacted, coordinates with science analysts regarding the potential impacts to those resources, and develops conditions of approval and modifying them when monitoring data indicate their effectiveness can be improved.
- EOS staff works closely with science analysts in BOEM, BSEE and other Federal and State agencies to develop conditions of approval and to monitor their effectiveness.
- EOS staff assists science analysts in both BOEM and BSEE with their consultations required by other environmental laws; Federal Law for the Endangered Species Act (ESA) 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) 16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq., National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and others.
Perry Boudreaux—Section Chief
Vacant—Unit 1 Supervisor
Vacant—Unit 2 Supervisor
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
Gulf of Mexico OCS Region
Office of the Environment
1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard
New Orleans, LA 70123