On December 3, 2021, the Department of Justice published a notice in the Federal Register of a settlement between Federal and State Trustees and Kirby Inland Marine, LP (“Kirby”) to resolve natural resource damages from a 2014 oil release. On March 22, 2014, a bulk carrier collided with an oil tank barge owned by Kirby
OCSLA Amendments Pave the Way for Carbon Sequestration in Offshore Federal Waters
The Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (the “Act”), which was passed into law on November 15, 2021, included key amendments to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”) that pave the way for carbon sequestration in offshore federal waters.
Prior to the Act’s passage, OCSLA (as amended by the Energy Policy Act of 2005) authorized…
Federal Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction Halting the Biden Administration’s “Pause” on New Oil and Gas Lease Sales
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana granted Plaintiff States’ request for an injunction to block the Biden Administration’s pause on new federal oil and gas lease sales (“Lease Pause”). Louisiana v. Biden, Jr., Case No. 2:21-cv-00778-TAD-KK, 2021 WL 2154963 (W.D. La. June 15, 2021).
Continue Reading Federal Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction Halting the Biden Administration’s “Pause” on New Oil and Gas Lease Sales
BOEM Assessing Interest in Wind Energy Leasing in the Gulf of Mexico
On June 8, 2021, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a Request for Interest (RFI) to assess interest in possible commercial wind energy leasing in the Gulf of Mexico OCS. BOEM will consider the information received in response to the RFI to determine whether to schedule a competitive lease sale or issue a noncompetitive lease for any portion of the area descried in the RFI. The area covered by the RFI comprises the entire Central Planning Area and Western Planning Area of the Gulf of Mexico, excluding portions of those areas located in water depths greater than 1,300 meters.
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Federal Agency Recommends Updated Regulations for Pipeline Monitoring, Decommissioning, and Abandonment
On April 19, the United States Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released a report (the “Report”) in response to a request from the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources regarding the oversight and decommissioning of pipelines in federal waters, which are mainly located within the Gulf of Mexico. The Report concluded that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) lacks a robust oversight process (1) for ensuring the integrity of active offshore oil and gas pipelines and (2) to address the environmental risks posed by decommissioning and abandoning pipelines on the seafloor. The GAO recommended that BSEE take actions to further develop, finalize, and implement updated pipeline regulations to address limitations in its ability to (1) ensure active pipeline integrity and (2) address safety and environmental risks associated with pipeline decommissioning and abandonment.
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Uncertainty About Migratory Bird Treaty Act “Takes”: The Biden Administration Delays the Effective Date of the Final Regulations Governing Take of Migratory Birds
On February 5, 2021, the Fish Wildlife Service (“FWS”), under the Biden administration, announced that it was delaying the effective date of a rule promulgated by the Trump administration regarding “incidental takes” and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“MBTA”). On January 7, 2021, the Trump administration published a final rule interpreting the MBTA as not…
Governor Edwards Indicates that Offshore Wind is on the Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico
Governor John Bel Edwards has identified offshore wind energy as a feature component of his recently announced renewable energy initiative for the Gulf of Mexico. The Governor announced the initiative at the inaugural meeting of his Climate Initiative Task Force.
Continue Reading Governor Edwards Indicates that Offshore Wind is on the Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico
Floating Foundations: The Future of Offshore Wind
With recent increased investments in wind power, the development of floating offshore wind farms presents the potential to access areas previously unavailable. On floating offshore wind farms, a wind turbine is attached to a floating structure which is tethered to the sea floor, as opposed to the turbine being a fixed foundation in the sea. This allows the wind turbines to operate in deeper waters.…
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Department of Interior Proposes New Financial Assurance and Decommissioning Regulations
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) recently issued a proposed rule on Risk Management, Financial Assurance and Loss Prevention (“Proposed Rule”), which was published in the Federal Register on October 16, 2020 and is now open for public comment. The Proposed Rule is the result of an extended effort by the Department of Interior, through its subagencies BOEM and BSEE to “streamline its evaluation criteria for determining whether oil, gas and sulfur lessees, right-of-use and easement (RUE) grant holders, and pipeline right-of-way grant holders may be required to provide bonds or other security above the prescribed amounts for base bonds to ensure compliance with their Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) obligations,” primarily decommissioning obligations. The path to this Proposed Rule has been long and winding, beginning in 2014 with BOEM resisting making changes through formal notice and comment rulemaking pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act, and instead continuing to regulate this issue through Notice to Lessee (“NTL”) guidance documents. BOEM issued the last and most controversial NTL, NTL No. 2016-N01, in 2016, which created widespread industry concern, and, as a result, was never fully implemented.
Below is a summary of the current regulations and some of the more significant proposed changes.
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Alaska District Court Vacates Trump Executive Order On Offshore Leasing
On March 29, 2019, Alaska Federal District Court Judge Sharon Gleason granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiff environmental groups in League of Conservation Voters v. Trump, 3:17-00101. The case stems from Executive Orders issued under the Obama Administration in 2015 and 2016 which withdrew certain areas in the Arctic and Atlantic regions from exploration and development under the offshore oil and gas leasing program. President Trump issued an Executive Order in 2017 which revoked the Obama withdrawals. The Court’s summary judgment ruling vacated certain portions of the 2017 Trump Executive Order and concluded that the prior Obama Orders would remain in place. In effect, the ruling removes the areas in the Arctic and the Atlantic covered in the Obama Orders from the five-year leasing program proposed by the Trump Administration. …
Continue Reading Alaska District Court Vacates Trump Executive Order On Offshore Leasing