Thursday, June 10, 2010

Offshore Wind and Oil: BFFs in a new Federal Bureau

Here's a link to a post about offshore wind on the east coast. Governors from ten East Coast states pledged to work together on exploration and development of offshore wind resources. The post also mentions Department of the Interior's new "Bureau of Ocean Energy Management." I hadn't heard of it before, but apparently it is a third of the new trifecta of bureaus replacing the Minerals Management Service. Here is a very under-hyped (in my opinion, maybe I'm just out of the federal energy loop) Secretary Order citing the formation of the Bureaus of Ocean Energy Management and Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (the link goes directly to a pdf on the right hand side of the page, three items down). This effectively splits up the party responsible for ensuring offshore drilling ventures are safe from the one that collects the paychecks from the drilling profits. It sounds similar to the split of the Atomic Energy Commission back in 1974, forming one body responsible for the licensing and safety of nuclear plants (the Nuclear Regulatory Commission) and another responsible for the research and promotion of nuclear energy, now part of DOE.

It will be interesting to see how one bureau handles the management of both wind energy (and possibly wave and tidal energy eventually) and drilling for oil. Hopefully they can recruit people with expertise in offshore renewable energy since this is somewhat of a mission-change for them. Tradeoff decision-making will also be an important skill set for the new group, as situations where offshore wind and offshore drilling compete for the same spot of ocean may arise.

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