Regulatory Framework and Guidelines

BOEM must comply with numerous environmental statutes, regulations, and executive orders to carry out its mission. This list below summarizes key environmental regulations and guidance that impact OEP’s work.

Oil Pollution Act OPA-90 Streamlined and strengthened EPA's ability to prevent and respond to catastrophic oil spills. A trust fund financed by a tax on oil is available to clean up spills when the responsible party is incapable or unwilling to do so. The OPA requires oil storage facilities and vessels to submit to the Federal government plans detailing how they will respond to large discharges. The OPA also requires the development of Area Contingency Plans to prepare and plan for oil spill response on a regional scale.
Energy Policy Act EPAct Addresses energy production in the United States, including: (1) energy efficiency; (2) renewable energy (BOEM OCS permitting); (3) oil and gas; (4) coal; (5) Tribal energy; (6) nuclear matters and security; (7) vehicles and motor fuels, including ethanol; (8) hydrogen; (9) electricity; (10) energy tax incentives; (11) hydropower and geothermal energy; and (12) climate change technology. 
Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act GOMESA Shares leasing revenues with Gulf producing states and the Land & Water Conservation Fund for coastal restoration projects; bans oil and gas leasing within 125 miles off the Florida coastline in the Eastern Planning Area, and a portion of the Central Planning Area, until 2022; and, mandates leasing of 8.3 million acres in the Central and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning areas.
National Marine Sanctuaries Act NMSA Authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to designate and protect areas of the marine environment with special national significance due to their conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, scientific, cultural, archeological, educational or esthetic qualities as national marine sanctuaries. As of 2021, NOAA manages thirteen national marine sanctuaries

Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act


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 development and national security.

National Environmental Policy Act


Foundation of environmental policymaking in the United States. The intent of the NEPA process is to help public officials make decisions based on an understanding of environmental consequences and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment.

Clean Air Act


Regulates all sources of air emissions. Established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and the environment.

Coastal Zone Management Act


Protects the coastal environment from growing demands associated with residential, recreational, commercial, and industrial uses by helping States develop coastal management programs (Programs) to manage and balance competing uses of the coastal zone.

Endangered Species Act


Conserves endangered and threatened species and their habitat. BOEM consults with the National Marine Fisheries Service and/or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on any agency actions.

Clean Water Act


Governs pollution control and water quality of the Nation's waterways. The object of the CWA is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation's waters.

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act


Primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. Federal waters.

Marine Mammal Protection Act


Prohibits the "taking" of marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas, and the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the United States.

Migratory Bird Treaty Act


Implements the U.S. commitment to four bilateral treaties, or conventions, for the protection of a shared migratory bird resource.

National Historic Preservation Act


Requires Federal agencies to consider the effect of an action on any district, site, building, structure, or object that is included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System NPDES Concerning the Coordination of NPDES Permit Issuance with the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Lease Program

Executive/Secretarial Orders

Ocean Policy

Executive Order 13840 Regarding the Ocean Policy to Advance the Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States (June 19, 2018) is intended to advance the economic, security, and environmental interests of the United States through improved public access to marine data and information, efficient Federal agency coordination on ocean related matters, and engagement with marine industries, the science and technology community, and other ocean stakeholders, including Regional Ocean Partnerships. This Executive Order revokes and replaces Executive Order 13547. Read the Fact Sheet.

Environmental Effects Abroad

Executive Order 12114—Environmental effects abroad of major Federal actions (Jan. 4, 1979) requires that responsible officials of Federal agencies be informed of environmental considerations and take those considerations into account when making decisions on major Federal Actions which could have environmental impacts anywhere beyond the borders of the U.S., including Antarctica.

Environmental Justice

Executive Order 12898—Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations (Feb. 16, 1994) focuses federal attention on the environmental and human health effects of federal actions on minority and low-income populations with the goal of achieving environmental protection for all communities.

Indian Sacred Sites

Executive Order 13007—Indian Sacred Sites (May 24, 1996) directs Federal land managing agencies to accommodate access to, and ceremonial use of, Indian sacred sites by Indian religious practitioners and to avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of such sacred sites.

Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments

Executive Order 13175—Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments (Nov. 9, 2000) establishes regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials in the development of Federal policies that have tribal implications, to strengthen the U.S. government-to-government relationships with Indian tribes, and to reduce the imposition of unfunded mandates upon Indian tribes. More information on DOI Tribal Policy available at

Coral Reef Protection

Executive Order 13089—Coral Reef Protection directs Federal agencies to expand their coral reef ecosystems research, preservation, and restoration efforts.


NEPA Streamlining

The Council on Environmental Quality 2020 NEPA Regulations require Federal  agencies to complete efficient environmental reviews and authorization decisions. Specifically, EISs should take no more than 2 years to complete, measured from the publication of the notice of intent to prepare an EIS to the record of decision.


Secretarial Order 3355: Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects includes more stringent time and page limits to the CEQ 2020 NEPA Regulations for environmental reviews completed within DOI. Specifically, EISs should be completed within 1 year and should be no more than 150 pages, or 300 pages for an unusually complex project.

Invasive Species

Executive Order 13112 - Invasive Species (February 3, 1999) and Executive Order 13571 —Safeguarding the Nation from the Impacts of Invasive Species (December 5, 2016) directs Federal agencies to prevent the introduction of invasive species and provide for their control, and to minimize the economic, plant, animal, ecological, and human health impacts that invasive species cause.


Renewable Energy Secretarial Order 3285A1 Dated February 22, 2010, this Order establishes the development of renewable energy as a priority for the Department of the Interior and establishes a Departmental Task Force on Energy and Climate Change. This Order also amends and clarifies Departmental roles and responsibilities to accomplish this goal.