OTC: Zinke signs orders implementing Trump’s offshore energy directive

US Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke signed a pair of orders on May 1 that implement President Donald Trump’s Apr. 28 offshore oil and gas executive order, and create a new position—Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy—to coordinate Interior’s energy portfolio that spans 9 of DOI’s 10 bureaus.

US Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke signed a pair of orders on May 1 that implement President Donald Trump’s Apr. 28 offshore oil and gas executive order, and create a new position—Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy—to coordinate Interior’s energy portfolio that spans 9 of DOI’s 10 bureaus.

“Today’s orders will help cement our nation’s position as a global energy leader and foster energy independence and security for the benefit of the American people, while ensuring that this development is safe and environmentally responsible,” Zinke said May 1 during an appearance at the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

“We will conduct a thorough review of the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas exploration, and listen to state and local stakeholders. We also will conduct a thorough review of regulations that were created with good intentions but have had harmful impacts on America’s energy security,” he pledged.

Secretarial Order 3550 directed the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to immediately develop a new 5-year federal OCS leasing program that gives full consideration to leasing tracts off Alaska, South and Mid-Atlantic states, and the Gulf of Mexico.

It also directed BOEM to work with the US Department of Commerce's National Marine Fisheries Service to expedite authorization requests for seismic surveys, particularly for new or resubmitted permitting applications in the Atlantic, to understand the extent of America's energy potential.

The order also directed BOEM to promptly complete the Sept. 12, 2016, Notice to Lessees No. 2016-No. 1 requiring additional financial security, and cease all activities promulgating the proposed Offshore Air Quality Control, Reporting, and Compliance Rule.

It also directed BOEM and the US Bureau for Safety and Environmental Enforcement to review “a host of other rules” and report progress within 21 days, DOI said in a release.

Secretarial Order 3551 established the Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy position. “The department recognizes that the development of energy resources on public lands will increase domestic energy production, provide alternatives to overseas energy resources, create jobs, and enhance US energy security,” it said.

“Eliminating harmful regulations and unnecessary policies will require a sustained, focused effort,” the order observed.

The secretary subsequently announced that Vincent DeVito, who held senior leadership roles at the US Department of Energy during George W. Bush’s presidency, will be DOI’s first Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy. He most recently was a capital partner at the Bowditch & Dewey law firm in Boston, with a corporate, regulatory, and, government affairs practice.

The two bureaus will play vital roles in this expansive offshore energy policy, Zinke said. “We are committed to fuller cooperation with the offshore industry and coastal communities to expand responsible energy development while holding industry accountable to strict safety and environmental protections,” he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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