BOEM Selects National Academies to Form Environmental Committee on Offshore Energy Resources

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced an agreement to have the National Academies establish a new standing committee on environmental science and assessment for offshore energy and mineral resources. The committee will provide independent information on issues relevant to BOEM’s environmental studies and assessment activities and support discussions on relevant issues. The committee’s services will be provided under a three-year contract with the National Research Council (NRC), the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

“BOEM is thrilled to enter this partnership with the National Academies,” said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper. “The Academies’ scientific credentials and the quality of experts affiliated with the organization make it a perfect choice to provide guidance to the bureau on scientific matters.”

Strawberry anemone. Photo by Greg Sanders, BOEM

The NRC issued a call for nominations on June 23, 2015, seeking a broad pool of applicants for the standing committee. Nominations will be accepted by the NRC until July 15, 2015. The NRC expects to announce the committee membership later in the summer, followed by an announcement of its plans for the first meeting in the fall of 2015.

The NRC will appoint approximately 15 experts out of a broad pool of qualified experts from academia, the private sector and other organizations with expertise in the scientific disciplines relevant to BOEM’s environmental assessment and studies programs.

Committee member expertise will encompass both natural and social sciences, and relevant disciplines within those broad areas as warranted, such as ecology and population biology, physical and chemical oceanography and marine archaeology.

The committee members will provide their expertise and advice without compensation and are not required to be members of the National Academies. The committee will meet several times a year, and may conduct workshops, studies or peer review documents relevant to BOEM’s environmental programs. The work will be purely advisory in nature, and will be limited to relevant independent and objective advice. It will not include recommendations on what policy or management decisions should be made.

“BOEM and the NRC have a rich and successful history in developing collaborative work dating back to the late 1970s,” said BOEM Chief Environmental Officer Dr. William Y. Brown. “The expanded partnership with the NRC and its role in reviewing BOEM’s research priorities is a quantum leap forward in the bureau’s ability to advance as an organization whose decisions are rooted in the best that science can offer,” Brown concluded.

Topics and activities the committee or sub-committees may explore include: strategic approaches to environmental monitoring to assess ecosystem health and mitigation effectiveness; stakeholder discussions on controversial issues; reviews of proposed BOEM studies; high level reviews and expert advice on gaps and priorities for research; technical input related to BOEM’s environmental programs; enhancing understanding of innovation in science and technology; and if warranted, NRC studies on specific topics.

BOEM’s Environmental Studies Program, which was authorized by the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Land Act, develops, funds, and manages rigorous scientific research to inform policy decisions regarding the development of energy and mineral resources on the OCS. The studies contribute to environmental reviews and the development of measures to protect sensitive resources from the potential impacts of ocean energy or non-energy mineral development. More information about BOEM’s environmental activities is available at Environmental Studies Program and Environmental Assessment.

The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. (Effective July 1, 2015, the Institute of Medicine will become the National Academy of Medicine.) They are private, independent nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter signed by President Lincoln and granted to the NAS in 1863. The National Research Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

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