Interior expedites rulemaking on U.S. ocean projects

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said his department will expedite an overdue renewable energy rulemaking for the Outer Continental Shelf, which the previous administration was to have completed in December 2008.

Interior’s Minerals Management Service is responsible for completing the final rulemaking to regulate alternative energy production activities and alternate uses of existing facilities on the Outer Continental Shelf. (HNN 1/20/09)

�I intend to issue a final rulemaking for offshore renewables in the coming months, so that potential developers know the rules of the road,� Salazar said Feb. 10. �This rulemaking will allow us to move from the �oil and gas only’ approach of the previous administration to the comprehensive energy plan that we need.�

Completing the rulemaking initiated during the Bush administration is but one component of Salazar’s strategy for developing an offshore energy plan that includes both conventional and renewable resources.

The strategy also calls for: extending by 180 days the public comment period on a proposed five-year plan for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf; assembling a detailed report from Interior agencies on conventional and renewable offshore energy resources; and holding four regional conferences to review the report’s findings.

The Minerals Management Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and other departmental scientists are to assemble information about conventional and renewable offshore resources. Their report is due to the secretary in late March. Interior then will determine areas needing more information and create a plan for gathering that information.

�I will convene four regional meetings in the 30 days after MMS and USGS publish their report,� Salazar said. �I will host one meeting in Alaska, one on the Pacific Coast, one on the Atlantic Coast, and one on the Gulf Coast.

Salazar said he plans to build a framework for offshore renewable energy development. By doing so, he hopes Interior can incorporate the significant potential for wave, ocean current, and wind energy into its offshore energy strategy.

Interior oversees more than 1.7 billion acres on the Outer Continental Shelf, an area roughly three-fourths the size of the entire United States. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also claims jurisdiction for ocean energy projects proposed for the Outer Continental Shelf.

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