US Interior Department Reorganizes Interbureau Offshore Wind Tasks

The US Department of the Interior (DOI) has shifted responsibility for offshore renewable energy-related safety and environmental protections from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).


Some key authorities that are transferred to BSEE include, but are not limited to: evaluating and overseeing facility design, fabrication, installation, safety management systems and oil spill response plans; enforcing operational safety through inspections, incident reporting, and investigations; enforcing compliance, including safety and environmental compliance, with all applicable laws, regulations, leases, grants, and approved plans through notices of noncompliance, cessation orders, civil penalties, and other appropriate means; and overseeing decommissioning activities.

“This rule advances regulatory clarity and transparency for the offshore wind industry”, said Laura Daniel-Davis, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management.

BOEM and BSEE were both established by the Department in 2011 as new bureaus to carry out their offshore energy management, safety, and environmental oversight missions.

The establishment of BOEM and BSEE marked the culmination of an effort to reorganize the former Minerals Management Service following the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.

As part of that reorganization, oversight of offshore renewable energy was assigned to BOEM.

Regulatory authority for the following functions remains with BOEM: determining areas suitable for siting offshore wind farms; issuing leases, easements and rights-of-way for activities that produce or support the production, transportation, or transmission of offshore energy or energy resources; reviewing and approving or approving with modifications or disapproving plans, including construction and operations plans, site assessment plans, and general activities plans, required for authorizing offshore renewable energy development.

In addition, BOEM will be responsible for conducting analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental studies and incorporating mitigation measures into plan approvals to avoid or minimize harm to the marine, coastal, or human environments. 

The rulemaking does not make substantive changes to current regulatory requirements, nor does it impose additional regulatory burdens, DOI said.

Today’s announcement comes following the release of a proposed rule from BOEM that would modernise regulations, streamline overly complex and burdensome processes, clarify ambiguous provisions and enhance compliance provisions in order to decrease costs and uncertainty associated with the deployment of offshore wind facilities, according to DOI.

The proposed reforms are estimated to save developers approximately USD 1 billion over a 20-year period, DOI stated.

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DOI said that these collective efforts support the Biden-Harris administration’s ambitious deployment goals of 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and 15 GW of floating offshore wind by 2035.

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