Overview of Air Quality Regulations

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) (43 U.S.C. 1334(a)(8)) requires the Secretary of the Interior to promulgate and administer regulations that comply with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) pursuant to the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.) and to the extent that authorized activities significantly affect the air quality of any State.

Under provisions of the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) of 1990, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Administrator, in consultation with the Department of the Interior’s Secretary and the U.S. Coast Guard’s Commandant, established requirements to control air pollution in Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) areas of the Arctic, Atlantic, Pacific, and eastward of 87°30'W longitude in the Gulf of Mexico.

OCS sources within 25 miles of the States' seaward boundaries are subject to the same Federal and state requirements as those that would apply if the source were located onshore.

OCS sources beyond 25 miles of the States' boundaries are subject to Federal requirements for Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) promulgated pursuant to Part C of Title 1 of the CAAA.

The CAAA also establishes procedures to allow the EPA's Administrator to exempt any OCS source from a control technology requirement if it is technically infeasible or poses an unreasonable threat to health or safety.

The criteria pollutants include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, suspended particulates, total hydrocarbons, and volatile organic compounds.

Exploration plans and DOCD's address activities that the Secretary has determined are activities regulated under 30 CFR 550.302, 550.303, and 550.304. All new or supplemental EP's and DOCD's must include air emissions information sufficient to make an air quality determination. Air emissions data that operators must submit to BOEM are outlined in the Notices to Lessees "Air Emissions Information for Applications for Accessory Platforms" (2007-G09) dated April 3, 2007 and "Guidance for Submitting Exploration Plans and Development Operations Coordination Documents" (2008-G04) or its update.

BOEM continues assess potential onshore air quality impacts from the development of OCS petroleum resources in the Gulf of Mexico. These studies are available on the BOEM web site at http://www.boem.gov/Gulf-of-Mexico-OCS-Region-Publications/.