On April 28, 2017, the Trump Administration issued an executive order on regulations and policies concerning offshore oil and gas exploration and production. The order, “Presidential Executive Order Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” is available online at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/04/28/presidential-executive-order-implementing-america-first-offshore-energy.
Here are some key features of the order, excerpted from its text:
Sec. 2. Policy.
It shall be the policy of the United States to encourage energy exploration and production, including on the Outer Continental Shelf, in order to maintain the Nation’s position as a global energy leader and foster energy security and resilience for the benefit of the American people, while ensuring that any such activity is safe and environmentally responsible.
Sec. 3. Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.
[T]he Secretary of the Interior shall…
a) give full consideration to revising the schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales…so that it includes, but is not limited to, annual lease sales, to the maximum extent permitted by law, in each of the following Outer Continental Shelf Planning Areas, as designated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) (Planning Areas): Western Gulf of Mexico, Central Gulf of Mexico, Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, Cook Inlet, Mid-Atlantic, and South Atlantic;
(b) ensure that any revisions made pursuant to subsection (a) of this section do not hinder or affect ongoing lease sales currently scheduled as part of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Final Program, as published on November 18, 2016; and
(c) develop and implement, in coordination with the Secretary of Commerce and to the maximum extent permitted by law, a streamlined permitting approach for privately funded seismic data research and collection aimed at expeditiously determining the offshore energy resource potential of the United States within the Planning Areas.
Sec. 4. Responsible Planning for Future Offshore Energy Potential.
(a) The Secretary of Commerce shall, unless expressly required otherwise, refrain from designating or expanding any National Marine Sanctuary under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq., unless the sanctuary designation or expansion proposal includes a timely, full accounting from the Department of the Interior of any energy or mineral resource potential within the designated area including offshore energy from wind, oil, natural gas, methane hydrates, and any other sources that the Secretary of Commerce deems appropriate and the potential impact the proposed designation or expansion will have on the development of those resources. …
(b) The Secretary of Commerce…shall conduct a review of all designations and expansions of National Marine Sanctuaries, and of all designations and expansions of Marine National Monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906, recently recodified at sections 320301 to 320303 of title 54, United States Code, designated or expanded within the 10-year period prior to the date of this order. …
(c) To further streamline existing regulatory authorities, Executive Order 13754 of December 9, 2016 (Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience), is hereby revoked.
Sec. 5. Modification of the Withdrawal of Areas of the Outer Continental Shelf from Leasing Disposition.
The body text in each of the memoranda of withdrawal from disposition by leasing of the United States Outer Continental Shelf issued on December 20, 2016, January 27, 2015, and July 14, 2008, is modified to read, in its entirety, as follows:
“Under the authority vested in me as President of the United States, including section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1341(a), I hereby withdraw from disposition by leasing, for a time period without specific expiration, those areas of the Outer Continental Shelf designated as of July 14, 2008, as Marine Sanctuaries under the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, 16 U.S.C. 1431-1434, 33 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.” …
Sec. 6. Reconsideration of Notice to Lessees and Financial Assurance Regulatory Review.
The Secretary of the Interior shall direct the Director of BOEM to take all necessary steps consistent with law to review BOEM’s Notice to Lessees No. 2016 N01 of September 12, 2016 (Notice to Lessees and Operators of Federal Oil and Gas, and Sulfur Leases, and Holders of Pipeline Right-of-Way and Right-of-Use and Easement Grants in the Outer Continental Shelf), and determine whether modifications are necessary, and if so, to what extent, to ensure operator compliance with lease terms while minimizing unnecessary regulatory burdens. The Secretary of the Interior shall also review BOEM’s financial assurance regulatory policy to determine the extent to which additional regulation is necessary.
Sec. 7. Reconsideration of Well Control Rule.
The Secretary of the Interior shall review the Final Rule of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) entitled “Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf-Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control,” 81 Federal Register 25888 (April 29, 2016), for consistency with the policy set forth in section 2 of this order, and shall publish for notice and comment a proposed rule revising that rule, if appropriate and as consistent with law….
Sec. 8. Reconsideration of Proposed Offshore Air Rule.
The Secretary of the Interior shall take all steps necessary to review BOEM’s Proposed Rule entitled “Air Quality Control, Reporting, and Compliance,” 81 Federal Register 19718 (April 5, 2016), along with any related rules and guidance, and, if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable and consistent with law, consider whether the proposed rule, and any related rules and guidance, should be revised or withdrawn.
Sec. 9. Expedited Consideration of Incidental Harassment Authorizations, Incidental-Take, and Seismic Survey Permits.
The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce shall, to the maximum extent permitted by law, expedite all stages of consideration of Incidental Take Authorization requests, including Incidental Harassment Authorizations and Letters of Authorization, and Seismic Survey permit applications under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq., and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.
Sec. 10. Review of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR-55.
The Secretary of Commerce shall review NOAA’s Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR-55 of July 2016 (Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing) for consistency with the policy set forth in section 2 of this order and, after consultation with the appropriate Federal agencies, take all steps permitted by law to rescind or revise that guidance, if appropriate.
Sec. 11. Review of Offshore Arctic Drilling Rule.
The Secretary of the Interior shall immediately take all steps necessary to review the Final Rule entitled “Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations on the Outer Continental Shelf—Requirements for Exploratory Drilling on the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf,” 81 Federal Register 46478 (July 15, 2016), and, if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable and consistent with law, publish for notice and comment a proposed rule suspending, revising, or rescinding this rule.