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Obama Administration News

14 Apr 2021

White House Names Beaudreau as Deputy Interior Secretary

Tommy Beaudreau (File photo: BOEM)

The White House on Wednesday nominated attorney Tommy Beaudreau, who oversaw energy development programs at the Interior department during the Obama administration, as the agency’s second in command.Beaudreau will return as deputy to Secretary Deb Haaland after serving nearly seven years there under former President Barack Obama, becoming the first person to lead the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees offshore oil and gas activity.He later served as chief of staff…

31 Mar 2021

President Biden Taps Maffei as Next FMC Chairman

Commissioner Daniel B. Maffei has been sworn in as the Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission. Photo courtesy FMC

Commissioner Daniel B. Maffei has been named Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, as appointed by President Joe Biden on March 29, 2021. Maffei is a sitting member of the FMC and replaces Michael A. Khouri in the role of Chairman.A native of New York, Maffei was a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms. His previous professional experience includes serving in the Department of Commerce during the Obama Administration, and earlier in his career, working as a Capitol Hill aide and as a broadcast reporter.

17 Mar 2021

Katherine Tai Confirmed by Senate as US Trade Chief

Katherine Tai (Photo: The White House)

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously to confirm veteran government trade lawyer Katherine Tai as the first woman of color to serve as U.S. Trade Representative, putting her to work enforcing trade deals, confronting China’s trade practices and patching up ties with U.S. allies.The rare 98-0 vote for Tai, a Yale and Harvard-educated daughter of immigrants from Taiwan, reflects support from pro-labor Democrats, traditional free-trade Republicans and China hawks from both parties.Tai…

09 Feb 2021

How Will Biden's Iran Strategy Impact Shipping?

© Lotharingia / Adobe Stock

How will Biden read Iranian hostilities? Forceful diplomacy or reckless militancy?Anticipating the Biden Administration’s Iran strategy is crucial for understanding future risks for maritime operators in the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman and wider Indian Ocean.Though the new U.S. Administration and the Iranian regime have stated their willingness to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, they are unlikely to do so.

27 Jan 2021

Biden Sees Nord Stream 2 Pipeline as 'Bad deal' for Europe

Joe Biden - Credit. Gage Skidmore/Flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0

President Joe Biden believes the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline is a "bad deal for Europe" and his administration will be reviewing restrictions on the project included in a bill that passed during the Trump administration, the White House said on Tuesday.The restrictions on the undersea pipeline project were included in the annual defense policy bill that passed on Jan. 1. Sanctions in the measure apply to any companies helping Gazprom, the Russian state energy company leading the project…

09 Oct 2020

US Sanctions: Spotlight on Cuba

© Bernd / Adobe Stock

The U.S. maintains a comprehensive sanctions program against Cuba, generally prohibiting all trade between the two nations, subject to multiple exceptions. In a previous article we addressed U.S. comprehensive sanctions generally, focusing on Iran, Syria and North Korea. Because the Cuba sanctions program has several idiosyncrasies that are unique to Cuba we address the Cuba sanctions program on its own.Background to Cuba sanctionsThe Cuba sanctions program is the oldest U.S. sanctions program still in existence.

25 Mar 2019

U.S. Clinches Port Deal with Oman

Tehran has in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route at the mouth of the Gulf, in retaliation for any hostile U.S. action, including attempts to halt Iranian oil exports through sanctions.Still, the U.S. official noted that the agreement would expand U.S. military options in the region for any kind of crisis.Duqm is ideal port for large ships. It is even big enough to turn around an aircraft carrier, a second official said."The port itself is very attractive and the geostrategic location is very attractive, again being outside the Strait of Hormuz," the official said, adding that negotiations began under the Obama administration.COMPETITION WITH CHINAFor Oman…

25 Sep 2018

Smarter Energy Policy Will Broaden Offshore Recovery

For the past few years, depressed commodity prices, stricter regulatory requirements and competition from onshore development at home and from other countries offering attractive offshore lease and royalty terms have had severe impacts on new exploration in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Thankfully, the tide appears to finally be turning.In August, Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 251 drew increased competition for offerings and $178 million in high bids, $53 million more than previous sale held in March.

12 Mar 2018

US States Slow Trump Offshore Oil Drilling Expansion Plan

© Georg Lehnerer / Adobe Stock

The Trump administration's plan to broadly expand drilling in U.S. offshore waters is moving slowly due to opposition from coastal states and indifference from oil companies that have turned their focus to other opportunities. The administration hopes encouraging U.S. energy development outside of shale oilfields will further its goal of "energy dominance." But existing Obama administration lease rules remain in place through 2022 unless the new rules gain approval. The Department of the Interior this year proposed opening vast new acreage in the U.S. outer continental shelf to drilling.

10 Mar 2018

U.S. Navy Assesses Fleet Structure

Following the release of new national security and defense strategies, the Navy is undertaking a new Fleet Structure Assessment that could alter its stated goal of a 355-ship fleet, senior service officials told Congress this week. A new FSA would take a look at the mix of surface ships and submarine in the service and could change assumptions on the look and size of the future fleet, Vice Adm. Bill Merz, deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems (OPNAV N9), told the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee on Tuesday. “We intend to do another FSA with the new National Defense Strategy. There’s a series of events that have to happen before we do the FSA…

09 Mar 2018

Harvey Gulf Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Louisiana-based Harvey Gulf International Marine LLC, which has more than 50 vessels in its fleet and supplies offshore oil rigs among other services, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Houston. Harvey Gulf did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The company said in court papers it had more than $1 billion in debt and has an agreement with lenders to reduce what the company owes. In return lenders would receive the equity in the company when it exits bankruptcy. Other creditors such as suppliers will be paid in full. A sharp drop in oil prices in 2014 cut demand for rigs, and over the past year many offshore drilling and service companies such as Seadrill Ltd and Ocean Rig UDW Inc have filed for bankruptcy.

04 Jan 2018

Trump Aims to Open Nearly All US Offshore to Oil Drilling

© wanfahmy / Adobe Stock

The Trump administration on Thursday proposed opening nearly all U.S. offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, a move aimed at boosting domestic energy production that sparked protests from coastal states, environmentalists and the tourism industry. The effort to open previously off-limits acreage in the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans comes less than eight years after BP Plc's Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico - the largest in American history. The disaster…

12 Dec 2017

Trump to Open Oil Drilling off US East Coast

President Donald Trump (Official White House photo)

The Trump administration is preparing a plan that would open up oil drilling off the U.S. East Coast, Bloomberg reported. President Trump ordered the Interior Department to create the draft proposal as part of his ‚ÄúAmerica-First Offshore Energy Strategy‚ÄĚ executive order in April.  The new plan, which could be unveiled as soon as this week, would allow the U.S. to auction oil and gas drilling rights in Atlantic waters previously blocked under the Obama administration. The new proposal would span the years 2019 to 2024, replacing the Obama plan, which runs through 2022.

15 Aug 2017

Iran: Drones Near U.S. Warships are Safe

Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) rejected U.S. criticism that it flew a drone unsafely near a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Gulf and it defended its right to carry out air patrol missions in the area. On Monday the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said that an Iranian drone had come within 1,000 feet (300 meters) of a U.S. aircraft carrier while it was in international waters in the Gulf conducting flight operations. Spokesman Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey said the Iranian drone "conducted an unsafe and unprofessional approach" as it passed by the USS Nimitz without navigation lights late on Sunday. Iran's IRGC…

14 Jun 2017

US Navy: Bigger is Better, but at What Cost?

U.S. Navy forces and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force routinely train together to improve interoperability and readiness to provide stability and security for the Indo-Asia Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Z.A. Landers)

The U.S. Navy has a balanced fleet, but it wants to grow bigger and better. Will the budget allow both? Maritime Reporter's March 2017 cover story on the U.S. Navy was all about the numbers. There exists several plans to grow the fleet beyond the current number of 308 ships, the Mitre recommendation of 414 ships, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment 340-ship proposal, and the Navy’s decision to grow the fleet to 355 ships, and the Trump administration’s 350. With so many numbers being bandied about, there are even more suggestions on how to get there.

01 Jun 2017

WCI Meets the Press, Addresses FY 2018 Budget Request

Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017; FY 2017 Corps' Work Plan and Infrastructure Plan Addressed. Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) today held its annual briefing for the news media to address the President’s FY 2018 budget request, the FY 2017 Consolidated Omnibus Appropriations Act, the Corps of Engineers’ FY 2017 Work Plan, and the Administration’s infrastructure initiative. he event was held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The full FY 2018 budget request to Congress released by the Trump Administration proposes $5.02 billion for the Corps’ Civil Works program, representing a $382 million increase above President Obama’s FY17 request, but more than $1 billion below the $6.038 billion appropriated by Congress for FY 2017.

10 May 2017

CBP Withdraws Obama-proposed Jones Act Changes

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has withdrawn an Obama-era proposal to modify a law that governs shipping, which would have revoked waivers that make it easier for oil and gas operators to skirt restrictions, according to an agency bulletin published Wednesday. For nearly 40 years the CBP has provided exemptions to the Jones Act, which mandates the use of U.S.-flagged vessels to transport merchandise between U.S. coasts. The exemptions have allowed oil and gas operators to use often cheaper, tax-free, or more readily available foreign flagged vessels. The CBP has weighed revoking these waivers after President Barack Obama's administration proposed to put them on the chopping block two days before President Donald Trump took office.

04 May 2017

WCI Applauds FY 2017 Omnibus

Michael Toohey (Photo: WCI)

Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) praised today’s passage of the FY 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill that provides funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017. FY ’17 funding for the Corps’ Civil Works mission totals $6.038 billion, a 0.8 percent increase above the FY ’16 funding level, but almost a 31 percent increase above the Obama Administration requested level. The bill provides full-use of estimated annual revenues from the…

20 Mar 2017

OP/Ed: Obama’s Arctic Decision Undercut His Own Legacy

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

On December 20, 2016, in an 11th hour unilateral action designed to cement his environmental legacy, President Obama withdrew 3.8 million acres in the north and mid-Atlantic Ocean and 115 million acres in the U.S. Arctic Ocean (including the entire Chukchi Sea and a significant portion of the Beaufort Sea) from future oil and gas leasing. Unlike the five year moratoria announced by Canada, President Obama touted these closures as ‚Äúpermanent.‚ÄĚ Not only does this short-sighted decision threaten the economic lifeline of Alaska, U.S. energy leadership and U.S.

18 Jan 2017

Feds to Offer 122K Acres Offshore NC for Wind

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that 122,405 acres offshore Kitty Hawk, North Carolina will be offered in a commercial wind lease sale on March 16, 2017. ‚ÄúToday‚Äôs announcement demonstrates how our collaborative efforts with Federal, state and local partners over the past eight years have built a foundation to harness the enormous potential of offshore wind energy,‚ÄĚ said Secretary Jewell. The Kitty Hawk lease sale is the latest effort in the Obama Administration‚Äôs renewable energy program at the U.S. Department of the Interior, which recently marked the operational launch of the nation‚Äôs first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island, and the lease sale for over 79,000 acres offshore New York.

07 Jan 2017

NOIA Slams BOEM’s Denial of Offshore Seismic Permits

National Ocean Industries Association President Randall Luthi today issued the following statement on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management‚Äôs denial of seismic survey permits for the Atlantic OCS. ‚ÄúIn yet another ‚Äėblack Friday‚Äô announcement targeting the offshore oil and natural gas industry, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management‚Äôs (BOEM) blanket denial of seismic survey permits is an unsurprising attempt to put another nail in the coffin of sensible energy exploration in the Atlantic. Not only does this decision conflict with BOEM‚Äôs own scientific conclusion that seismic surveys are environmentally safe, it is self-fulfilling rhetoric, basing its reasoning on President Obama‚Äôs recent withdrawal of 3.8 million acres in the north and mid-Atlantic Ocean.

20 Dec 2016

White House ‚ÄėPlaying Politics‚Äô Arctic Drilling Ban -AEC

Lucas Frances, (Photo: Arctic Energy Center)

The Obama Administration announced that it will ban offshore oil and gas development throughout much of the U.S. Arctic. Under the authority of a provision in a 1953 law, the decision designates "the bulk of the Arctic‚ÄĚ indefinitely off limits. Commenting, Lucas Frances, spokesperson for the Arctic Energy Center, said, ‚ÄúThis is a deeply frustrating development and one that will mean a bleak economic future for Alaska. After the White House cited a lack of industry interest in the Arctic for removing the region from the offshore leasing program‚Ķ

21 Dec 2016

Obama Bans New Drilling off Alaska, Part of Atlantic Shore

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday banned new oil and gas drilling in federal waters in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, in a push to leave his stamp on the environment before Republican Donald Trump takes office next month. Obama used a 1950s-era law called the Outer Continental Shelf Act that allows presidents to limit areas from mineral leasing and drilling. Environmental groups said that meant Trump's incoming administration would have to go court if it sought to reverse the move.

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