Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)
Since its establishment in 2011, BSEE has been the lead federal agency charged with improving safety and ensuring environmental protection related to the offshore energy industry, primarily oil and natural gas, on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The Bureau vigorously regulates oversight of worker safety, emergency preparedness, environmental compliance, and conservation of resources. Our year-round work schedule includes conducting thousands of announced and unannounced inspections, developing safer technologies, mandating that each operator establish and follow their Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS), and carrying out investigations when serious incidents do occur.
Mission Statement: The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) works to promote safety, protect the environment, and conserve resources offshore through vigorous regulatory oversight and enforcement.
Background on BSEE
Headquartered in Washington D.C., just two blocks from the White House in the Interior Department’s Stewart Lee Udall Main Interior Building, BSEE’s strength lies in the coordination that exists between the six national programs, three region offices (located in Anchorage, Camarillo (California), and New Orleans) and its five Gulf Coast district offices. Staff in the Sterling, Virginia annex and research arms in both Texas and New Jersey provide the Bureau and the energy industry with innovative solutions to safety issues and new approaches that lessen the impacts of oil spills and other environmental concerns.
BSEE is a forward-thinking regulator engaged in ongoing efforts to help industry develop and maintain a robust safety culture with a strong focus on offshore risk reduction. Through incident reporting requirements, near-miss reporting, and real-time monitoring we are advancing the ability of the offshore industry to improve safety and respond quickly when incidents do occur. We believe that safety, environmental stewardship, and resource conservation are linked attributes. Therefore we address each of these three areas with equal vigor in order to drive the industry to take their responsibilities as seriously as we take ours.
The U.S. Government began regulating the offshore energy and mineral extraction industry in the late 1940s, but its jurisdiction was not firmly established until passage of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) of 1953. From 1953 until 2011, predecessor agencies regulated activities on the Outer Continental Shelf. After the Deepwater Horizon tragedy in April 2010, BSEE was established in an effort to separate regulatory responsibilities from activities concerning lease sales and revenue generation (which are now overseen by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Office of Natural Resource Revenue (ONRR)).
BSEE’s creation on October 1, 2011 resulted in a process of continuous regulatory standardization and enhancement. A number of practical changes have occurred since 2011 including the expansion of Safety and Environmental Management Systems, enactment of the Well Control Rule, finalization of the Arctic Rule and the Decommissioning Costs Rule, creation of a near-miss reporting system (SafeOCS), and launching joint inspections with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Since the first offshore well was established off the coast of California in the early twentieth century, America has seen a rapid expansion of oil and gas exploration in the marine environment. Concurrently, the U.S. Government established protocols that would allow the nation’s energy needs to be met while safeguarding our oceans and coastlines. The creation of BSEE was the most recent effort to learn from the past and establish a focused regulatory authority staffed with subject matter experts.