The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that all Federal The National Environmental Policy Act requires that all federal agencies use a systematic, interdisciplinary approach to protect the human environment; this approach works to ensure the integrated use of the natural and social sciences in any planning and decision-making that may have an impact upon the environment. In 1979, the established uniform guidelines for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA. Federal action agencies follow these regulations (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508) during the NEPA process to identify and assess the reasonable alternatives to proposed actions that avoid or minimize adverse effects of these actions upon the quality of the human environment through either an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement.
The CEQ requirements under 40 CFR §1501.4 also allow federal agencies to categorically exclude certain proposed actions from additional NEPA analyses under an EA and/or EIS if it is determined that the proposed action would not have a significant effect on the human environment (individually or cumulatively). Federal agencies are required to establish and identify any extraordinary circumstances under which the CE might have a significant effect, requiring review under an EA or EIS. The Department of the Interior’s list of CEQ approved CEs are outlined in 43 CFR §46.210 and the extraordinary circumstances are listed under 43 CFR §46.215. The Departmental Manual at 516 DM 15.4 includes the agency CEs that address General Items, Internal Program Initiatives, Permit and Regulatory Functions, and Royalty Functions.
NEPA at BSEE
BSEE and BOEM maintain a memorandum of agreement on NEPA and environmental compliance, in accordance with Secretary’s Order 3299 (Establishment of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue), to help minimize duplication of efforts, promote consistency of procedures and regulations, and resolve disputes during the implementation of NEPA. The MOA establishes the Bureaus’ roles and outlines the necessary coordination of the Bureaus’ environmental review and enforcement processes required to conduct energy and resource activities on the OCS. BOEM conducts the necessary NEPA analyses to address the major federal actions of both agencies with BSEE acting as a cooperating agency. BSEE oversees implementation, monitoring, and assessment of the effectiveness of mitigation measures developed during the NEPA process and provides feedback as a part of the adaptive management process.
BSEE's compliance with and implementation of NEPA ensures BSEE federal actions are properly informed and the potential environmental impacts of those actions are appropriately mitigated or avoided altogether. Mitigation and monitoring measures are applied as conditions of approval to permits and other BSEE actions.
BSEE's commitment to the NEPA process helps ensure that we are doing our part as a world leader in protecting our offshore environment, and, specifically, keeping our world's oceans environmentally sound and healthy for everyone to enjoy now and well into the future.
NEPA requires agencies to seek input from stakeholders and the public throughout the environmental review process. BSEE and BOEM consult, coordinate, and collaborate with governmental entities, stakeholders, and the public to gather feedback and information to assist with informed decision making and minimizing impacts of activities on the OCS. For more information, please click on the links below:
The following documents guide BSEE in its implementation of NEPA:
- CEQ NEPA Implementing Regulations Desk Reference (May 2022)
- A Citizen's Guide to the NEPA
- BOEM/BSEE MOA regarding NEPA and Environmental Compliance - 2018
- BSEE NEPA Compliance Policy
- DOI Department Manual Chapter 15 Managing the NEPA Process—Minerals Management Service 516 DM 15
- BOEM NEPA and Environmental Documents
- BSEE Data Center
- Government Initiated Deployment Exercises of Oil Spill Response Equipment in the Southern California Planning Area PEA/FONSI (April 2018)
- Platform Heritage FONSI & Final EA: ExxonMobil Proposal to Install Impressed Current Cathodic Protection System (2008)
- Structure-Removal Operations of the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS EIS/EA MMS 2005-013)
- Platform Edith to Platform Elly Power Cable Installation EA
- Platform Edith to Platform Elly Power Cable Installation FONSI