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U.S. offshore drilling rules moving ahead

  |   Oct. 3, 2011 at 11:09 AM
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. government aims to release draft laws on offshore drilling for 2012 to 2017 on time despite a regulator shake-up, an official said.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation Enforcement was officially split in two, with former BOEMRE Michael Bromwich serving as the interim head of the new Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and Tommy Beaudreau, a top Bromwich adviser, taking the helm of the new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Beaudreau, during a news conference, said the division won't do anything to a timeline for work on a new five-year leasing plan for offshore drilling.

"We're on track with our scoping," he was quoted by the Platts news service as saying. "This fall, we're going to be issuing for comment the draft proposed plan as well as the draft environmental impact statement. We're on track with our schedule."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had said lease sales might be limited to offshore areas that have drilling programs, potentially banning work in areas like the Atlantic Coast, Platts adds.

The Environmental Protection Agency last month issued a final air quality permit for Shell to conduct oil and natural gas exploration off the coast of Alaska. The permits give Shell the authority to operate its Discover drillship and associated exploration and oil-spill response vessels for up to 120 days every year starting next year.

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