Benefits Derived from the Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Studies Program Are Questionable

CED-78-93: Published: Jun 1, 1978. Publicly Released: Jun 1, 1978.

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The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) environmental studies program was established in 1974 to provide information about the OCS environment which would give federal agencies a basis for making decisions on resource development, predicting the impacts of OCS development, and modifying leasing stipulations and regulations for OCS development.

The program has been costly, exceeding $200 million since its inception, and it may have little effect in minimizing environmental damage during exploration, development, and production in OCS. There is little agreement among federal and state agencies on how the studies can best be used in decisionmaking and what information is needed to assess the environmental impact of OCS development. Research on effects of pollutants is widely dispersed among federal agencies and is not coordinated with overall marine research needs. State agencies are concerned about the lack of data describing coastal and nearshore environments on which to base lease decisions. Uncertainties about information management are exemplified in the Alaska studies program, the largest of the programs. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has not provided adequate program guidance to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop the necessary information, and NOAA has not used its resources to develop environmental information effectively.

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