U.S. Representative Mike Johnson (LA-04) recently reintroduced Streamlining Environmental Approvals Act (SEA Act) to increase efficiency in the lengthy permit approval processes that have caused setbacks and delays for offshore oil and gas exploration. The bill reduces excessive government regulations developed over more than 45 years under the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).
In remarks about the SEA Act, Congressman Johnson said, “Government-imposed regulations continue to overwhelm hardworking Americans, diminishing efficiency and stunting productivity. In our region specifically, unnecessary permit approval delays have halted critical restoration projects, hindered offshore drilling and unnecessarily redirected military resources to comply with excessive regulations. The SEA Act will cut bureaucratic red tape to ensure timely and fair permit approval processes, promoting innovation and unleashing our businesses.”
In a press statement, IADC President Jason McFarland supported the SEA Act, saying, “IADC thanks Congressman Johnson for his leadership in reintroducing the SEA Act to clarify and streamline the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The U.S. OCS holds the promise of vast natural energy resources, with BOEM estimating as much as 89.9 billion barrels of oil and 327.5 trillion cubic feet of gas yet to be discovered. This bill paves the way for seismic permitting to efficiently locate said resources, as well as decrease permitting delays and increase regulatory efficiency, a win for both government and industry.”
Key components of the bill include:
- Sets a Permitting Timeframe:The bill sets a clear framework for permits to be accepted or denied by the secretary of the appropriate agency.
- Authorizes More Approvals:The secretary has 120 days after an application has been deemed complete to issue the authorization allowing for activity to begin; if not, the authorization will be deemed approved on the terms stated in the application.
- Creates a Science-Based Extension:The bill allows the option to extend certain permits for more than a year if there has been no substantial change to the marine mammal population.
- Removes Duplication:The bill eliminates the duplicative process currently in place surrounding the Endangered Species Act (ESA), exempts MMPA-covered marine mammals from the requirement of additional, less rigorous standards used in the ESA process and prohibits any related federal activity from the ESA’s consultation requirement as applied to marine mammals.