Legislation to Reorganize the Interior Department's Offshore Energy Agencies (H.R. 3404)
Status: Passed in Committee on November 17, 2011 with a bipartisan vote of 28 to 14. Placed on the House Calendar.
Chairman Hastings’ legislation builds on the Interior Department’s reorganization of its offshore energy agencies by writing reforms into law and further enhancing the accountability, efficiency, safety and ethical standards of offshore energy operations.
These reforms will allow for the robust production of our Nation’s offshore energy resources in order to protect and create American jobs, grow the economy and lower energy costs, while ensuring that all activity is conducted with proper oversight.
Increasing Accountability and Improving Efficiency
H.R. 3404 formally abolishes the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the agency responsible for all offshore energy leasing, planning, safety and revenue collection at the time of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The bill creates three separate, distinct agencies to handle offshore energy operations, each with clearly defined missions.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy (BOE) is responsible for the planning, leasing and environmental work associated with offshore energy production.
The Ocean Energy Safety Service (OESS) is responsible for permitting, safety and inspections.
The Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) is responsible for all royalty and revenue collection.
An Assistant Secretary for Ocean Energy and Safety will oversee both BOE and OESS. The current Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget will oversee ONRR.
To further increase accountability and ensure efficient operations within the agency, H.R. 3404 establishes a new Under Secretary of Energy, Land and Minerals to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. This position will oversee all offshore and onshore energy operations – ensuring that American energy production is elevated as a top priority within the Department of the Interior.
H.R. 3404 establishes a National Offshore Energy Health and Safety Academy to train the government’s inspectors.
The bill also establishes an Outer Continental Shelf Energy Safety Advisory Board, which was recently created by the Interior Department, to offer independent scientific advice on safe, responsible and timely energy production.
H.R. 3404 requires that employees conducting safety inspections have at least three years experience in the oil and natural gas field and a degree in an appropriate field.
Requiring the Highest Ethical Standards
H.R. 3404 requires annual performance reviews of inspectors.
It requires the Secretary of the Interior to certify annually that all DOI employees are in compliance with all Federal employee ethics laws and requires the Secretary to conduct a random drug testing program.
Proposed New Structure of Offshore Energy Agencies
Current & Proposed Structure of the Department of the Interior