The Australian government is undertaking a strategic assessment of the current management processes of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) as a step towards ensuring a “one-stop-shop” approval process for offshore petroleum activities in federal waters.
The move was announced in a joint statement from Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, Environment Minister Greg Hunt, and NOMPSEMA Chief Executive Officer Jane Cutler.
Macfarlane said the environmental impacts of offshore petroleum activities are currently regulated under both the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999 and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act of 2006.
“This dual assessment, monitoring, and enforcement creates duplication and is an unnecessary burden on business without any additional environmental protection benefits,” he said.
“The government has now prioritized this strategic assessment so that NOPSEMA’s environmental legislation can be recognized as meeting the requirements of the EPBC Act without additional referral or approval required from a separate federal regulator.”
Macfarlane said the outcome of the strategic review will deliver faster environmental approvals, reduce duplication in environmental assessments and regulation, and promote Australian industry. It will also protect employment while maintaining integrity of the environmental approvals process.
He added that the review will need to demonstrate that the current high environmental standards can be achieved in protecting the marine environment.
“I will not accept any lessening of standards for protection of Australia’s marine environment,” he said.
Macfarlane declared that the review will be robust and transparent and will include public consultation on the draft report to be released late this year.