Originally Posted by fishin geezer
The removal of inoperable rigs from the Gulf of Mexico is the decision of the thugs that make up the EPA, being directed by His Holiness, Lord Hussein Obama,the Anointed One.
Well you're right on that, capt, but it's also complicated because Congress made such a mess of it. Congress passed a law in 1977 to require that rigs be removed within one year of being decommissioned - oil & gas was played out, the rig was abandoned, all operations stopped as "idle iron."
All Obama did was to say that the oil & gas companies should comply with that law, in an expedited manner because of the BP oil spill.
So who has most responsibility? That would primarily be the BOEM and its new sister agency, the sons of the former Minerals Management Service. They approve offshore leases, drilling permits, and importantly all rig decommissioning plans. That's part of the Department of the Interior.
The Army Corps of Engineers also has a significant role, such as approving all construction in the waters, which includes rig removal. They have to approve the permit or it goes nowhere. You might see requirements such as to drag the bottom with a steel shrimp net to return the bottom to pristine conditions, for example, or building a new artificial reef with clean material.
The EPA plays a minor part, such as regulating all discharges into the water under the Clean Water Act - and they're going after BP for a massive settlement based on the number of barrels of crude, number of dead animals, etc.
Other agencies with a minor role include the Coast Guard (Homeland Security) for navigation and safety at sea inspections, OSHA for work related safety and injury investigations, and so forth - an alphabet soup of agencies that may at times include even state agencies.
To help with all this, the BOEM has guidance about how to decommission a rig, all in one place, including those for use of explosives and removing pipelines (which are controlled by other federal agencies). The guidance allows for use of non-explosives, artificial reefing, and many options. However for some reason, most oil & gas owner-operators are using explosives to remove the jacket legs below the mud level. Whatever method of destruction, a biologist is supposed to certify that no endangered species such as whale, dolphin, and sea turtle are injured.
Notice I haven't mentioned the NMFS once yet. That's because they only have a minor role, no authority, and simply regulate the take of fish that is landed by commercial and recreational fishermen. Actually, I think the NMFS is on our side, even though they're skeptical about rigs being "essential habitat," but they know that rigs are powerful fish attractors, and seem genuinely concerned.
Other than that, the regulatory agencies are just doing their job. Congress needs to fix the laws to do that.