S. 953 (112th): Offshore Production and Safety Act of 2011

112th Congress, 2011–2013. Text as of May 12, 2011 (Placed on Calendar in the Senate).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

II

Calendar No. 43

112th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 953

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

May 11, 2011

(for himself, Ms. Murkowski, Mr. Coats, Mr. Corker, Mr. Wicker, Mr. Alexander, Mr. Barrasso, Mr. Blunt, Mr. Paul, Mr. Enzi, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Heller, Mr. Isakson, Mr. Moran, Mr. Boozman, Ms. Ayotte, and Mr. Johanns) introduced the following bill; which was read the first time

May 12, 2011

Read the second time and placed on the calendar

A BILL

To authorize the conduct of certain lease sales in the outer Continental Shelf, to amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to modify the requirements for exploration, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Offshore Production and Safety Act of 2011.

2.

Oil spill response and containment

(a)

Response plans

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 9 the following:

10.

Exploration plans

(a)

In general

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, in the case of each exploration plan submitted after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall require the incorporation into the exploration plan of a third-party reviewed response plan that describes the means and timeline for containment and termination of an ongoing discharge of oil (other than a de minimis discharge, as determined by the Secretary) at the depth at which the exploration, development, or production authorized under the exploration plan is to take place.

(b)

Technological feasibility

Before determining whether to approve a new exploration plan under subsection (a), the Secretary shall certify the technological feasibility of methods proposed to be used under a response plan described in that paragraph, as demonstrated by the potential lessee through simulation, demonstration, or other means.

.

(b)

Public/private task force on oil spill response and mitigation

(1)

In general

The Secretary of Energy, acting through the Office of Science of the Department of Energy, shall use available funds in the Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Research Fund established under section 999H of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16378), and such other funds as are necessary, to conduct a study, in collaboration with the Office of Fossil Energy of the Department, on means of improving prevention methodologies and technological responses to oil spills and mitigating the effects of oil spills on natural habitat.

(2)

Task Force

As part of the study required under this subsection, the Secretary shall convene a task force composed of representatives of the private sector, institutions of higher education, and the National Academy of Sciences—

(A)

to assess the prevention methodologies and technological response to the blowout and explosion of the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon that occurred on April 20, 2010, and resulting hydrocarbon releases into the environment;

(B)

to assess the adequacy of existing technologies for prevention and responses to deep water oil spills; and

(C)

to recommend means of improving prevention methodologies and technological responses to future oil spills (including drilling relief wells) and mitigating the effects of the oil spills on natural habitat.

(3)

Report

Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress, the President, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Secretary of Defense a report that describes the results of the study conducted under this subsection, including a recommended standard for technological best practices for prevention of and responses to oil spills, practice drills for emergency responses, and any other recommendations.

(c)

Study on Federal response to oil spills

(1)

In general

The Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a study of existing capabilities and legal authorities of the Federal Government to prevent and respond to oil spills.

(2)

Deepwater Horizon incident

As part of the study required under this subsection, the Comptroller General of the United States shall assess the extent to which the capabilities and authorities described in paragraph (1) have been fully used in the response to the blowout and explosion of the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon that occurred on April 20, 2010, and resulting hydrocarbon releases into the environment.

(3)

Report

Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to Congress a report that describes the results of the study conducted under this subsection, including any recommendations.

3.

Conduct of certain proposed oil and gas lease sales

(a)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

Environment impact statement for the 2007–2012 5-year OCS Plan

The term Environmental Impact Statement for the 2007-2012 5-Year OCS Plan means the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2007-2012 prepared by the Secretary and dated April 2007.

(2)

Multi-sale environmental impact statement

The term Multi-Sale Environmental Impact Statement means the Environmental Impact Statement for Proposed OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sales 193, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 212, 215, and 218, 213, 216, and 222 prepared by the Secretary and dated September 2008.

(3)

Secretary

The term Secretary means the Secretary of the Interior.

(b)

Requirement to conduct certain proposed oil and gas lease sales

(1)

In general

In accordance with section 8 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1337), the Secretary shall conduct—

(A)

as soon as practicable, but not later than 120 days, after the date of enactment of this Act, offshore oil and gas lease sale 216;

(B)

as soon as practicable, but not later than 240 days, after the date of enactment of this Act, offshore oil and gas lease sale 218;

(C)

as soon as practicable, but not later than 1 year, after the date of enactment of this Act, offshore oil and gas lease sale 220;

(D)

as soon as practicable after the date of enactment of this Act, but not later than June 1, 2012, offshore oil and gas lease sale 222;

(E)

not later than September 1, 2012, offshore oil and gas lease sale 209; and

(F)

not later than December 31, 2012, offshore oil and gas lease sale 212.

(2)

Prohibition on conflicts with military operations

The Secretary shall not make any tract available for leasing under paragraph (1)(C) if the President, acting through the Secretary of Defense, determines that drilling activity on the tract would create an unreasonable conflict with military operations.

(3)

Environmental review

For the purposes of lease sale 193 and each of the lease sales authorized under subparagraphs (A), (B), (D), (E), and (F) of paragraph (1), the Environmental Impact Statement for the 2007–2012 5-Year OCS Plan and the Multi-Sale Environmental Impact Statement shall be considered to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).

4.

Approval or denial of drilling permits

(a)

Amendment

Section 11 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1340) is amended by striking subsection (d) and inserting the following:

(d)

Drilling Permits

(1)

In general

The Secretary shall, by regulation, require that any lessee operating under an approved exploration plan obtain a permit—

(A)

before the lessee drills a well in accordance with the plan; and

(B)

before the lessee significantly modifies the well design originally approved by the Secretary.

(2)

Safety review required

The Secretary shall not issue a permit under paragraph (1) until the date on which the Secretary determines that the proposed drilling operations meet all—

(A)

critical safety system requirements (including requirements relating to blowout prevention); and

(B)

oil spill response and containment requirements.

(3)

Approval or denial of permit

(A)

In general

Subject to subparagraph (B), not later than 30 days after the date on which the Secretary receives an application for a permit under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall approve or deny the application.

(B)

Extensions

(i)

In general

The Secretary may extend the deadline under subparagraph (A) by an additional 15 days on not more than 2 occasions, if the Secretary provides to the applicant prior written notice of the delay in accordance with clause (ii).

(ii)

Notice requirements

The written notice required under clause (i) shall—

(I)

be in the form of a letter from the Secretary or a designee of the Secretary; and

(II)

include the names and titles of the persons processing the application, the specific reasons for the delay, and the date on which a final decision on the application is expected.

(C)

Denial

If the Secretary denies an application under subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall provide the applicant—

(i)

written notice that includes—

(I)

a clear and comprehensive description of the reasons for denying the application; and

(II)

detailed information concerning any deficiencies in the application; and

(ii)

an opportunity—

(I)

to address the reasons identified under clause (i)(I); and

(II)

to remedy the deficiencies identified under clause (i)(II).

(D)

Failure to approve or deny application

If the Secretary has not approved or denied the application by the date that is 60 days after the date on which the application was received by the Secretary, the application shall be considered to be approved.

.

(b)

Deadline for certain permit applications under existing leases

(1)

Definition of covered application

In this subsection, the term covered application means an application for a permit to drill under an oil and gas lease under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq.) in effect on the date of enactment of this Act, that—

(A)

represents a resubmission of an approved permit to drill (including an application for a permit to sidetrack) that was approved by the Secretary before May 27, 2010; and

(B)

is received by the Secretary after October 12, 2010, and before the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act.

(2)

In general

Notwithstanding the amendment made by subsection (a), a lease under which a covered application is submitted to the Secretary of the Interior shall be considered to be in directed suspension during the period beginning May 27, 2010, and ending on the date on which the Secretary issues a final decision on the application, if the Secretary does not issue a final decision on the application—

(A)

before the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, in the case of a covered application submitted before the date of enactment of this Act; or

(B)

before the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date on which the application is received by the Secretary, in the case of a covered application submitted on or after the date of enactment of this Act.

5.

Extension of certain outer Continental Shelf leases

(a)

Definition of Covered Lease

In this section, the term covered lease means each oil and gas lease for the Gulf of Mexico outer Continental Shelf region issued under section 8 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1337) that—

(1)
(A)

was not producing as of April 30, 2010; or

(B)

was suspended from operations, permit processing, or consideration, in accordance with the moratorium set forth in the Minerals Management Service Notice to Lessees and Operators No. 2010–N04, dated May 30, 2010, or the decision memorandum of the Secretary of the Interior entitled Decision memorandum regarding the suspension of certain offshore permitting and drilling activities on the Outer Continental Shelf and dated July 12, 2010; and

(2)

by the terms of the lease, would expire on or before December 31, 2011.

(b)

Extension of covered leases

The Secretary of the Interior shall extend the term of a covered lease by 1 year.

(c)

Effect on suspensions of operations or production

The extension of covered leases under this section is in addition to any suspension of operations or suspension of production granted by the Minerals Management Service or Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement after May 1, 2010.

6.

Judicial review of agency actions relating to outer continental shelf activities in the gulf of mexico

(a)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

Covered civil action

The term covered civil action means a civil action containing a claim under section 702 of title 5, United States Code, regarding agency action (as the term is used in that section) affecting a covered energy project.

(2)

Covered energy project

(A)

In general

The term covered energy project mean the leasing of Federal land of the outer Continental Shelf (including submerged land) for the exploration, development, production, processing, or transmission of oil, natural gas, wind, or any other source of energy in the Gulf of Mexico, including any action under such a lease.

(B)

Exclusions

The term covered energy project does not include any disputes between the parties to a lease regarding the obligations under a lease described in subparagraph (A), including regarding any alleged breach of the lease.

(b)

Exclusive venue for certain civil actions relating to covered energy projects in the Gulf of Mexico

Venue for any covered civil action shall be in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, unless there is no proper venue in any court within the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

(c)

Time limitation on filing

A covered civil action shall be barred unless the covered civil action is filed not later than the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of the final Federal agency action to which the covered civil action relates.

(d)

Expedition in hearing and determining the action

The court shall endeavor to hear and determine any covered civil action as expeditiously as possible.

(e)

Standard of review

In any judicial review of a covered civil action—

(1)

administrative findings and conclusions relating to the challenged Federal action or decision shall be presumed to be correct; and

(2)

the presumption under paragraph (1) may be rebutted only by the preponderance of the evidence contained in the administrative record.

(f)

Limitation on prospective relief

In a covered civil action, the court shall not grant or approve any prospective relief unless the court finds that the relief—

(1)

is narrowly drawn;

(2)

extends no further than necessary to correct the violation of a legal requirement; and

(3)

is the least intrusive means necessary to correct that violation.

(g)

Limitation on attorneys’ fees

(1)

In general

Sections 504 of title 5, United States Code, and 2412 of title 28, United States Code, shall not apply to a covered civil action.

(2)

Prohibition

No party to a covered civil action shall receive payment from the Federal Government for attorneys’ fees, expenses, or other court costs.

May 12, 2011

Read the second time and placed on the calendar