The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953 as Amended (OCSLA) authorizes the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to grant leases and prescribe regulations that govern mineral and renewable energy development on the U.S. outer continental shelf (OCS). Under the OCSLA, BOEM authorizes leases, easements and rights of way for oil and natural gas development and other marine minerals such as sand and gravel for coastal restoration activity. BOEM also issues leases, easements and rights of way on the OCS for projects that generate electricity from offshore wind, wave and currents and for renewable energy transmission projects.
For information pertaining to BOEM’s regulatory authorities and mission, please visit BOEM’s website at:
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is an independent agency that regulates the transmission and wholesale trading of electricity and natural gas in interstate commerce, and the transportation of oil by pipeline in interstate commerce. FERC also reviews proposals to build interstate natural gas pipelines, natural gas storage projects, and liquefied natural gas terminals, and FERC licenses non-federal hydropower projects, which includes marine and hydrokinetics projects (MHK). Congress assigned these responsibilities to FERC in various laws that include the Federal Power Act, Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, Natural Gas Act, Interstate Commerce Act, Energy Policy Act of 2005, and Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013. In addition, FERC’s regulatory mandate is governed by other statutes, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, Rivers and Harbors Act, Endangered Species Act, Coastal Zone Management Act, Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, and National Historic Preservation Act.
FERC is composed of up to five commissioners who are appointed by the President of the United States, with the consent of the U.S. Senate. The President appoints one of the commissioners to be the chairman of FERC, the administrative head of the agency. To avoid any undue political influence or pressure, FERC is a bipartisan body, and no more than three commissioners can be of the same political party.
The staff of FERC is organized into 12 offices, including the Office of Energy Projects (OEP) which is responsible for the Commission’s siting of energy infrastructure. OEP’s main objective is to advance economic and environmental benefits for the nation through, among other activities, the approval and oversight of hydroelectric and liquefied natural gas projects that are in the public interest. FERC’s specific hydropower responsibilities include: (1) issuance of preliminary permits which preserves an applicant’s priority to file a license application while it studies the site and prepares to apply for a license; (2) issuance of licenses for the construction and operation of new projects; (3) issuance of relicenses for existing projects; (4) investigating headwater benefits to determine whether downstream projects benefit from Federal projects and if they should pay for such benefits; and (5) oversight of all ongoing project operations, including dam safety and security inspections, public safety, and environmental monitoring for the duration of the license term. For gas infrastructure, FERC reviews the siting, construction, and operation of facilities at U.S. points of entry to import and export natural gas, including liquefied natural gas, which involves: (1) design and technical reviews of proposed facilities during the authorization process; (2) compliance inspections during construction; and (3) safety, security, infrastructure, and environmental inspections over the life of the facility.
For information pertaining to FERC’s regulatory authorities and mission, and its MHK program, please visit FERC’s website at:
For information pertaining to NOAA’s regulatory authorities and mission, please visit NOAA’s website at:
The Army Corps is authorized to regulate artificial islands, installations, and other devices covered under 43 U.S.C. § 1333(a) that are located in the seabed of the Outer Continental Shelf, pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Appropriations Act of 1899, 33 U.S.C. § 40, as amended by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953, 43 U.S.C. § 1333(e). The Army Corps grants permits for submarine cables as structures located in the navigable waters pursuant to the Rivers and Harbors Act and the Clean Water Act, to the extent that submarine cables traverse coastal wetlands or involve certain discharges. The Army Corps typically conducts an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act prior to issuing a permit and consults with other agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.
For information pertaining to Army Corps’ regulatory authorities and mission, please visit Army Corps’ website at: