Environment

Program Overview

BOEM’s environmental program ensures that environmental protection informed by science and law is a foremost concern and an indispensable consideration in BOEM's decision-making.

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) directs BOEM to study and consider coastal, marine, and human environmental impacts when making decisions on how to effectively promote economic development, promote environmental protection, and foster energy and national security. More than 30 statutes, regulations, executive orders, and policies are integral to BOEM’s decisions, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The environmental program covers the three major areas that BOEM regulates on the outer continental shelf: oil and gas, renewable energy, and non-energy minerals such as sand and gravel or hard minerals. The headquarters’ Office of Environmental Programs (OEP) develops national policy, provides guidance, and coordinates with regional activities.

The environmental program’s two primary functions are science (Environmental Studies Program) and Environmental Assessment, which also includes consultations with stakeholders and other regulatory agencies to inform decisions. The Chief Environmental Officer also manages and leads engagement and consultation at the national and regional levels with Federally-recognized Tribes.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on Offshore Science and Assessment (COSA) advises BOEM’s environmental program; provides independent, scientifically credible, and objective information related to BOEM's mission; and supports discussions on relevant issues.

 Environmental Studies and assessment graphicEnvironmental Stewardship Cycle
 Science and Assessment Cycle

The Environmental Studies Program (ESP) serves as a leading contributor to the growing body of scientific knowledge about the marine and coastal environment, funding more than $1 billion in research since 1973.

It covers a broad range of sciences, including physical oceanography, atmospheric sciences, biology, social sciences (including anthropology, economics and marine archaeology), and fates and effects of oil or gas in the marine environment.

ESP leverages resources for research through inter- and intra-agency agreements and cooperative agreements with federal and state partners, universities, and public colleges in coastal states.

Environmental assessment activities cover BOEM’s three offshore programs: oil and gas, renewable energy, and non-energy minerals such as sand and gravel or hard minerals. Leasing these resources requires environmental reviews based on the best and most recent available science, which enables BOEM to pursue an adaptive and ecosystem-based approach to carry out its stewardship responsibilities.

For oil and gas development, BOEM is operating under the 2017-2022 National Oil and Gas Program until the proposed 2019-2024 program is developed and approved. A new Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement supports each new national program. Additional environmental reviews and consultations are conducted for specific activities such as drilling a well or installing a platform.

BOEM also is responsible for leasing areas of the OCS for renewable energy (wind, wave, and ocean current technologies). The Renewable Energy Program’s environmental reviews are done on a project-by-project basis and are available on the renewable energy program state pages.

Marine Minerals Program(MMP) environmental reviews are done on a project-by-project basis and are available on each state project page; regional environmental reviews are available on the regional page when applicable. MMP serves as either the lead in drafting environmental compliance documents or as a cooperating agency where another agency serves as the lead.

 

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