Research and Studies
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) established policy for managing the OCS leasing program and the protection of marine and coastal environments. The Marine Minerals Program has utilized four types of research—Marine Mineral Related Studies (Biological Studies, Physical Modeling Studies, and Environmental Impact Investigations), and Marine Mineral Resource Evaluations. BOEM analysts use the information obtained from these studies to evaluate the effects of specific proposed dredging operations, as required under current environmental laws. The results are incorporated, as appropriate, into lease requirements and stipulations for the dredging of OCS sand, gravel or other mineral material. Environmental studies may be found on BOEM’s Environmental Studies Program Information System (ESPIS), which now displays reports with new geo-referencing tools, animation and other new features.
BOEM must wisely manage OCS marine mineral resources to maximize long term use while ensuring
that environmental damage to the marine and coastal environment is avoided, minimized, or mitigated.
BOEM’s Marine Minerals Program science strategy focuses on integrating the resource evaluation data
provided through state/Federal cooperative efforts with environmental studies information. This
strategy recognizes the importance of identifying suitable OCS sand deposits and describes past,
ongoing, and future environmental studies investments needed to make informed decisions regarding
the use of Federal mineral resources for future beach nourishment or wetlands restoration activities.
Based on the current data needs identified in past assessments and input received through coordination
with stakeholders, the MMP proposes and conducts environmental studies to support the following
principal areas of focus:
- Identify and fill data gaps on resources of concern in advance of project implementation to
inform NEPA and other relevant consultation documents and avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate
- Contribute to strategic stakeholder engagement and regional partnering initiatives to identify
and implement effective resource management strategies.
- Utilize data associated with regional geological and geophysical (G&G) investigations of
potential sediment resource areas to support programmatic consultations within the Atlantic
and GOM OCS in order to more strategically manage impacts.
Since 1992, BOEM has invested about $40 million to identify non-energy resources on the OCS, conduct
world-class scientific research, and lease OCS resources to coastal communities and other Federal
agencies in need.
Marine Mineral Resource Evaluations historically have been
completed through cooperative agreements, and have been used for
joint sand evaluation projects with coastal states, environmental
studies and other research projects through state agencies and
universities on the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts. BOEM received
$16.3 million for Hurricane Sandy response under the Disaster Relief
Appropriations Act of 2013. It included funds for cooperative
agreements with 13 Atlantic states to update their offshore sand
resource maps and data bases. The funds also supported additional
research to gather and analyze geophysical information and sediment
core samples from Florida to Massachusetts under the Atlantic Sand
Assessment Project (ASAP). The new data identifies and assesses new
potential sand resources which might be needed in the future.
Marine Mineral Studies fulfill the
Bureau’s environmental responsibilities
which include: assessing the effects of
OCS activities, including the effects of
OCS sand, gravel, and shell acquisition
and placement, on natural, historical, and
human resources and the appropriate
monitoring and mitigating of those
The Environmental Studies Program (ESP) is required by OCSLA, as amended in 1978, to provide information for sound decision-making and management. The ESP conducts research across the spectrum of the physical, biological and socioeconomic environments as required by the OCSLA and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). Many of the MMP environmental studies may be found on BOEM’s Environmental Studies Program Information System (ESPIS), which now displays reports with geo-referencing tools, animation and other new features.
Sample of ESPIS Search Results
Ocean Science is the science and technology journal of BOEM.
The Bureau funds, on average, $30 million per year for
scientific studies in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic, the Pacific,
and the Arctic. Data gained from these studies inform policy
decisions regarding offshore oil, natural gas, renewable energy,
and marine mineral development. The information is also used
by other federal and state agencies in decision-making and by
members of academia and experts in the private sector. BOEM is
one of the leading contributors to the body of scientific
knowledge about the Nation's marine and coastal environments.