In order to improve collaboration among agencies to ensure that offshore energy development is done in an environmentally sound manner, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
The MOU, which is consistent with recommendations from the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, was announced at the International Oil Spill Conference in Portland, OR, on Monday.
"BOEM and NOAA have enjoyed a long and productive relationship, but there is room for improvement," said BOEM Director Michael R. Bromwich. "We can and will broaden and enhance the communication, cooperation and collaboration between our agencies. This MOU creates new mechanisms to ensure the early and close coordination of BOEM and NOAA science and agency priorities to promote stronger environmental stewardship and stimulate greater efficiency in developing and implementing Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) energy policy and conservation."
This MOU specifies how BOEM and NOAA will cooperate and coordinate by:
Other key elements of the MOU include meeting regularly to develop potential ways to appropriately align regulatory and decision-making processes and identify the best available science to support future regulatory decisions; increased collaboration on oil spill exercises and response issues; and annually evaluating activities and progress related to National Ocean Policy objectives.
"This agreement improves how we coordinate and collaborate to ensure energy resources are developed in an environmentally sound manner that protects marine life and ecosystems under our respective authorities," said Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "We look forward to continuing to work with BOEM to ensure NOAA science informs offshore energy development and oil spill response."
According to the agencies, BOEM and NOAA have a history of nearly 40 years of successful scientific collaboration. These collaborative efforts encompass all OCS planning areas, from the Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment Program in Alaska to ongoing joint funding of the environmental monitoring at the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico.
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