HR 3534 - Offshore Drilling Regulations and Other Energy Law Amendments - National Key Vote

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Title: Offshore Drilling Regulations and Other Energy Law Amendments

Vote Smart's Synopsis:

Vote to pass a bill that establishes various bureaus within the Department of the Interior and amends regulations for nonrenewable resource management.


  • Defines a "nonrenewable resource" as oil or natural gas, and a "renewable resource" as the following (Sec. 2):
    • Wind energy;
    • Solar energy;
    • Geothermal energy;
    • Landfill gas; and
    • Marine and hydrokinetic energy.
  • Establishes the Bureau of Energy and Resource Management within the Department of the Interior, with authority over a comprehensive program of nonrenewable and renewable energy and mineral resource management (Sec. 101):
    • On the Outer Continental Shelf;
    • On Federal public lands;
    • On acquired Federal lands;
    • On the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska;
    • On any Federal lands pursuant to the mineral leasing law; and
    • Pursuant to all other Federal applicable laws, including the administration and approval of all instruments and agreements concerning renewable and nonrenewable energy and mineral resources development activities.
  • Establishes the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement within the Department of the Interior with authority over, but not limited to, the following (Sec. 102):
    • Overseeing the application of environmental reviews;
    • Suspending or prohibiting operation activity on leases held on the Outer Continental Shelf or Federal lands;
    • Requiring comprehensive safety and environmental management programs connected with exploration, development and production of energy or mineral resources;
    • Developing and implementing regulations for Federal employees to carry out inspections and investigations for health, safety and environmental regulations;
    • Implementing the Offshore Technology Research and Risk Assessment Program under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act; and
    • Levying fines and penalties against disqualifying operators.
  • Requires the Secretary of the Interior to issue supplementary ethics guidance for employees who have "regular, direct contact" with lessees and operators as part of their official duties, and requires the Secretary to update such guidance at least once every 3 years thereafter (Sec. 104).Abolishes the Minerals Management Service (Sec. 106).
  • Establishes the Outer Continental Shelf Safety and Environmental Advisory Board to provide the Department of the Interior with technical and scientific advice on safe and environmentally compliant exploration, development and production of renewable and nonrenewable energy and mineral resources (Sec. 108).
  • Establishes a fine of $200 million for every 1 million barrels of oil or other hazardous substance discharged into the Gulf of Mexico from an offshore facility, which shall be in addition to any other penalties that the owner or operator may incur (Sec. 504).
  • Repeals the limit on liability for oil pollution from an offshore facility other than a deepwater port, which in existing law equals no more than the total of all removal costs plus $75 million (Sec. 702).
  • Establishes the following minimum requirements for blowout preventers on oil wells (Sec. 205):
    • Two sets of blind shear rams that are appropriately spaced to prevent blowout preventer failure;
    • Redundant emergency backup control systems capable of activating components of the blowout preventer;
    • Regular testing of backup control systems; and
    • "As appropriate," remotely operated vehicle intervention capabilities for secondary control of all sub sea blowout preventer functions.
  • Requires the Secretary of the Interior establish "appropriate" standards for the approval of independent third-party certifiers of functions for blowout preventers, well design and cementing (Sec. 205).
  • Requires cement bond logs for all cementing jobs intended to provide a barrier to hydrocarbon flow, and requires cement bond logs or other integrity tests prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior for other cement jobs (Sec. 205).

Prohibits the requesting or bidding for a permit to drill on the outer continental shelf by a person (including organizations) that was found to have done the following in connection with oil industry activities in the previous 7 years (Sec. 206):

    • Committed "willful or repeated" violations under the "Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970" (29 U.S.C. et seq.) at a rate higher than 5 times the oil industry average;
    • Been convicted of a criminal violation for death or serious bodily injury;
    • Had more than 10 fatalities at its exploration, development and production facilities and refineries as a result of health, safety or environmental law violations; and
    • Been assessed civil penalties and criminal fines for violations committed under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) and the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.) in a total amount of more than $10 million for each of the aforementioned Acts.
  • Appropriates $900 million from Outer Continental Shelf lease revenues, for fiscal year 2011 and each year thereafter, to the Land and Water Conservation Fund to carry out the purposes of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 (sec. 207).
  • Requires that all lessees operating under an approved exploration plan obtain a permit prior to drilling and prohibits the Secretary of the Interior from granting a permit prior to a full engineer review of the well system and the completion of a safety and environmental management plan (Sec. 208).
  • Requires the Secretary of the Interior to carry out an offshore technology research and risk assessment program with focus on, but not limited to, the following (Sec. 211):
    • Risk assessment using all available data;
    • Oil spill response and mitigation;
    • Technologies and methods to reduce the impact of geophysical exploration on marine life; and
    • Renewable energy operations.
  • Prohibits the Secretary from approving an application to drill a well unless the chief executive officer of the applicant states the following in writing (Sec. 212):
    • The applicant is in compliance with all environmental and natural resource conservation laws;
    • The applicant has the capability and technology to respond to a "worst-case" oil spill;
    • The applicant has an oil spill response plan;
    • The blowout prevent has redundant systems to prevent or stop a blowout;
    • The well design is safe; and
    • The applicant can begin and complete a relief well if necessary.
  • Repeals certain incentives for natural gas production from deep wells in shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Section 344 of Public Law 109-58), and repeals the suspension of certain royalties for deep water production in the Gulf of Mexico (Sec. 345 of Public Law 109-58) (Sec. 219).
  • Allows the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling to issue subpoenas to compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books, records, correspondence, memoranda, and other documents (Sec. 221).
  • Exempts applicants for a permit to drill from the moratorium against drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf if the Secretary of the Interior determines that the applicant has complied with the following (Sec. 241):
    • The following notices handed down by the Minerals Management Service:
      • "National Notice to Lessees and Operators of Federal Oil and Gas Leases, Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)," dated June 8, 2010 (NTL No. 2010-N05); and
      • "National Notice to Lessees and Operators of Federal Oil and Gas Leases, Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)," dated June 18, 2010 (NTL No. 2010-N06);
    • Additional safety measures recommended by the Secretary; and
    • All required safety inspections.
  • Appropriates $900 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund each fiscal year to carry out the purposes of this act, with 1.5 percent of that funding going toward the securing of public access to Federal land for recreational use (Sec. 403).
  • Establishes a Gulf of Mexico Restoration Program to coordinate Federal, State and local restoration programs to maximize the efforts in restoring biological integrity, productivity and ecosystem functions in the Gulf (Sec. 501).
  • Establishes the Gulf of Mexico Restoration Task Force consisting of the Governors of the Gulf Coast States and the heads of appropriate Federal agencies as selected by the President. The task force shall issue a comprehensive plan for long-term restoration of the Gulf of Mexico no later than 12 months after the enactment of this act and update the plan every 5 years thereafter (Sec. 501).
  • Establishes a long-term, comprehensive marine environmental monitoring and research program for the marine and coastal environment of the Gulf of Mexico (Sec. 502). -Prohibits vessels that are not owned by a citizen of the United States from engaging in support of exploration, development, or production of resources in, on, above, or below the exclusive economic zone of the United States (Sec. 709).
  • Requires that the Coast Guard develop and maintain operational capability to do the following (Sec. 719):
    • Establish and enforce regulations and standards to prevent and contain a discharge of oil or hazardous substance from a tank or non-tank vessel or offshore facility, as the President designates; and
    • Protect the environment and natural resources from impacts of oil or hazardous substance discharge or threat of substantial discharge.
  • Prohibits a person from using an offshore facility for exploration, development or production of oil or natural gas in, above, or below the exclusive economic zone, unless the facility was built in the United States (Sec. 725).
  • Expands the definition of a 'responsible party' under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 U.S.C. 2701(32)) to include any person, other than an individual, that has a direct or indirect ownership interest in a vessel, onshore facility, offshore facility, deepwater port, or pipeline that amounts to more than 25 percent of the total ownership interests in such entity, if the assets of the entity are insufficient to pay claims owed under the aforementioned Act (Sec. 731).
  • Establishes, within 180 days after the enactment of this act, a conservation fee on Federal onshore and offshore lands of $2 per barrel of oil and $.20 per million BTU of natural gas (Sec. 802).
  • Prohibits an employer from discharging or discriminating against an employee who provides information or testimony concerning a violation of this act (Sec. 1002).

Title: Offshore Drilling Regulations and Other Energy Law Amendments