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Capital Report

2018:  MARCH

September 2017 Issue

BOEM Approves Eni US
Beaufort Exploration Plan

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) conditionally approved a Beaufort Sea exploration plan (EP) it received from Eni US Operating Co. Inc. Eni intends to drill four exploration wells into the federal submerged lands of the Beaufort Sea from its Spy Island Drillsite, a pre-existing facility located in Alaska state waters. Drilling will be conducted during the winter months only. The drilling is scheduled to begin December 2017.

OSU Gets NSF Grant
To Fund US Research Fleet

Oregon State University (OSU) has just received a grant of $121.88 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to spearhead the construction of a new class of research vessels for the U.S. Academic Research Fleet. It is the largest grant in the university’s history. This grant will fund the construction of the first of three planned vessels approved by Congress for research in coastal regions of the continental U.S. and Alaska.

The first vessel is slated to be operated by OSU for research missions focusing on the U.S. West Coast. The NSF will begin the competitive selection of operating institutions for the second and third vessels later this year, likely to universities or consortia for operations on the U.S. East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.

NOAA Coast Survey Director
Elected Chair of New IHO Council

RAdm. Shepard M. Smith, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey and the U.S. national representative to the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), was elected as the chair of the newly established IHO Council, which comprises 30 leading hydrographic nations from the membership of the IHO and oversees performance management and the business side of the IHO.

One of the first tasks of the council is a comprehensive review of the organization’s strategic plan—its first thorough review since 2009. If warranted, the council will prepare a new strategic plan for the IHO.

The council will bring more regular, executive-level focus to the needs of the changing global hydrographic environment. The global hydrographic community is addressing a rapid emergence of new technologies and techniques to collect and use hydrographic data and the application of the data to uses beyond “just charting.” Satellites, autonomous vehicles, recreational and other maritime stakeholders all promise to play increasing roles in making navigation safer.

First BOEM Offshore Wind Approval
For Bay State Wind in Massachusetts

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued its first approval of an offshore wind site assessment plan to Bay State Wind, a utility-scale offshore wind project in Massachusetts located 15 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard in the Atlantic Ocean. Bay State Wind is a joint venture between DONG Energy and Eversource. Massachusetts formally adopted a comprehensive energy bill that includes a mandate that state utilities purchase 1,600 MW of offshore wind power. In June, Massachusetts utilities took their first step toward fulfilling the mandate with a request for proposals to build the state’s first project.

Bay State Wind will submit a proposal for the Massachusetts contracts, which will be awarded in 2018.

Coast Guard, FEMA Authorizations Included
In House Homeland Security Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act (H.R. 2825), a bill that includes Transportation and Infrastructure Committee legislation for the Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee previously approved H.R. 2518, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017, and H.R. 2548, the FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2017 in May.

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017 reauthorizes, strengthens and supports the U.S. Coast Guard in its critical missions to save lives, safeguard U.S. shores, protect living marine resources and help ensure a 21st century maritime transportation system for the U.S.

The FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2017 addresses the rising costs of disasters in the U.S., reduces the toll of future losses and reauthorizes FEMA for the first time in the agency’s history.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Gets Green Light

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) paved the way for the 600-mi., 42-in. fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline to proceed when it issued the final environmental impact statement (EIS). A joint project of utility giants Duke Energy and Dominion Energy, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would move fracked gas from West Virginia into Virginia and North Carolina.

The Sierra Club recently requested that FERC issue a new environmental review document analyzing information that came in after, or late in, the public comment process.

Obstacles remain for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, as it still must secure water quality permits in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, where the project is widely opposed.

The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management must consider impacts to species, habitats and landscapes on public lands crossed by the pipeline.

G&G Activities in the Gulf Determined
To Have Minimal Environmental Impact

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has released the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Geological and Geophysical (G&G) final programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS), which shows that, subject to adequate mitigation measures, a decision from BOEM to continue authorizing G&G activities in the GOM would not result in major impacts to the environment.

The area evaluated includes GOM OCS waters off Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. BOEM also analyzed potential effects in these states’ waters because OCS G&G activities can impact resources in state waters since sound can travel from the OCS to state waters.

2018:  MARCH

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