Safeguarding the Environment
Even as oversight of drilling safety became less effective while the industry pursued more demanding deepwater plays in the Gulf of Mexico, environmental safeguards eroded too—putting the rich natural resources of the Gulf waters and the surrounding coasts at increasing risk.
Broader consultations among federal agencies, including the Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), prior to leasing and exploration is need identify and address safety and environmental risks.
The Department of the Interior should strengthen its policies and procedures to improve the level of environmental analysis, transparency, and consistency at all stages of the OCS planning, leasing, exploration and development process. Congress should amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to extend the 30-day deadline for approving exploration plans to 60 days to allow sufficient time for environmental reviews and analysis.
Congress and Interior should enhance environmental protection by creating a distinct environmental science office within Interior headed by a chief scientist with specified environmental review responsibilities.