BSEE Increases Maximum Civil Penalty Amounts

WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has announced that the maximum civil penalty rate for Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act violations will increase from $42,704 to $43,576 a day for each violation. This legislatively-mandated increase is contained in a final rule which was effective January 18, 2018.

The OCS is all submerged lands lying seaward of state coastal waters which are under U.S. jurisdiction. BSEE is involved in the approval of oil and gas plans, facilities, and operations. The process includes reviews where there is much emphasis on design, operations, and maintenance.

While BSEE monitors compliance with the regulations throughout the permitting process and operations, nothing compares to having BSEE personnel in the field to ensure operators are complying with the regulations.

BSEE imposes civil penalties when an operator fails to correct a recorded violation or commits a violation that constitutes a threat of serious, irreparable, or immediate harm or damage to life, property, any mineral deposit, or the marine, coastal, or human environment.

The Bureau reviews penalty rates annually to ensure that they keep pace with inflation and remain a mechanism to emphasize to industry the importance of safe and environmentally sustainable operations.

The law directs the Secretary of the Interior to adjust the maximum civil penalty amount to reflect any increases in the Consumer Price Index prepared by the U.S. Department of Labor. In concert, the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 requires Federal agencies to adjust the level of civil monetary penalties through rulemaking. BSEE most recently adjusted the penalty maximum amount in February 2017.