Minerals Management Service (MMS) Environmental Studies Program (ESP)

The Minerals Management Service Offshore Minerals Management and Minerals Revenue Management programs provide major economic and energy benefits on a national and local level to the taxpayers, states and the American Indian community.

The Offshore Minerals Management program oversees the exploration

credit: National Environment Agency (NEA) file photo via AsiaOne
and development of oil, natural gas and other minerals and renewable energy alternatives on the nations outer continental shelf.

MMS continues to look for better ways to serve the American people and to ensure that the nation receives the best value for its resources now and into the future.

The program not only supports decisions made within the Department of Interior, but also provides coastal states and local governments with the information necessary to ensure that all stages of offshore energy and mineral activities are conducted in a manner to protect both the human and natural environments.

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) Section 1346 mandates the conduct of environmental and socioeconomic studies needed for the assessment and management of environmental impacts on the human, marine, and coastal environments which may be affected by oil and gas or other mineral development.

OCSLA Section 1345 authorizes the use of cooperative agreements with affected States to meet the requirements of OCSLA, including sharing of information, joint utilization of available expertise, formation of joint monitoring arrangements to carry out applicable Federal and State laws, regulations, and stipulations relevant to outer continental shelf operations both onshore and offshore.

The purpose of the Environmental Studies Program is to obtain the information needed for the assessment and the management of environmental impacts; to predict impacts on marine biota; and to monitor the human, marine, and coastal environments to provide time series and data trend information.
Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

The MMS ESP funds studies for better understanding of the marine, coastal or human environments affected or potentially affected by offshore oil and gas or other mineral exploration and extraction on the outer continental shelf.

Recent efforts include field observations, laboratory experiments and modeling studies of environmental, social, economic, or cultural processes related to offshore OCS gas and oil and marine mineral extraction activities.


Agency - Department of the Interior

The Department of the Interior protects and provides access to the Nation's natural and cultural heritage, including responsibilities to Indian tribes and island communities. Departmental goals include resource protection and usage, overseeing recreational opportunities, serving communities and excellence in management.




Program Accomplishments

The Environmental Studies Program currently funds more than a dozen ongoing research cooperative agreements. This cutting-edge research has already and will in the future benefit the public through an increase in understanding the potential impacts of offshore oil and gas and marine mineral and alternative energy activities on the marine environment. Some of the projects underway to improve understanding include: the physical and biological characteristics of offshore borrow areas for sand and gravel for beach and coastal restoration; the reproductive ecology and health of fish assemblages at oil and gas platforms; ecology and health of intertidal communities in proximity to oil and gas production; and the behavior of sperm whales in response to seismic industry activities.

Uses and Use Restrictions

The assistance can be used to conduct environmental research to satisfy the information needs associated with oil and gas, alternate energy and marine mineral development on the outer continental shelf.

Applications must be for scientific research projects which are within the MMS' area of responsibility.

The majority of funds are used to support research that will enhance understanding of long-term effects of oil and gas, marine minerals and alternate energy development projects.

Funds can also be used for attendance at national conferences for the dissemination of project results.

Funds are not normally used for capitalization.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

State agencies and public universities may apply.

More than one institution may collaborate in the preparation of an application for assistance.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Research scientists, Federal, state and local decision-makers, Native American Organizations, and the general public will ultimately benefit from the program.

Credentials/Documentation

Evidence of the applicant's qualifications for performance of the proposed research including past professional publications, resumes, and lists of past projects.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Limited discussions regarding funding availability and program interest are permitted.

Environmental Impact Statements are not required for these projects.

This program is eligible for coverage under E.O.

12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." Applicants should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in their State to find out if the State has selected this program for review and for information on the process the State requires when applying for Federal assistance.

Application Procedures

Applicants are encouraged to post their applications on www.grants.gov. The standard SF-424 application forms required by OMB Circular A-102, 2 CFR Part 215.12, and the Department of the Interior Code of Federal Regulations at 43 CFR Part 12, Subparts C and F, or its revisions, must be used.

Award Procedures

Awards are made on the basis of a competitive peer review of proposals by a panel consisting of government research managers and external reviewers, as appropriate. Criteria for judging proposals include mission relevance, technical merit, and the quality and appropriateness of the personnel, project management, logistics plan, safety management, permits and interagency coordination, budget/matching funds, and where appropriate, minimization of impacts. Notification of an award is issued. It is anticipated that five applications will be received and five cooperative agreement awards will be granted in FY 2009.

Deadlines

None.

Authorization

43 U.S.C. 1345 (e); 43 U.S.C. 1346 Section 20.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 90 - 270 days.

Appeals

None.

Renewals

Renewals can be made through submission and approval of a project agreement.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

No statutory requirements. Cost sharing of 1:1 is encouraged.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Cooperative agreements will normally be awarded for 1 to 8 years, with funding awarded as a lump sum, or added as funds become available.

Post Assistance Requirements

Reports

Quarterly progress reports; a presentation at periodic MMS Information Transfer Meetings; a draft final, proof copy, and final report; draft and final technical summary; articles based on the research published in journals, and presentation slides are required.

Dissemination of the research results at professional society meetings and symposia is encouraged.

Annual financial reports using OMB Standard Form SF-269 are also required.

Audits

Audit requirements are in accordance with relevant OMB regulations. In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations", nonfederal entities that receive financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program- specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 or more in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.

Records

All records must be maintained for 3 years after submission of the final financial report.

Financial Information

Account Identification

14-1917-0-1-302; 14-8370-0-7-302.

Obigations

(Cooperative Agreements) FY 08 est $1,000,000; FY 09 est $1,500,000; and FY 10 est $1,000,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$100,000 to $700,000; $300,000.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

The Environmental Studies Program is described in 30 CFR Chapter II Subchapter B Subpart M-Studies. Final reports are available at online in the Minerals Management Service Environmental Studies Program Information System at: http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/espis/espisfront.asp.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Not applicable.

Headquarters Office

James Cimato, Minerals Management Service, 381 Elden Street, MS-4041, Herndon, VA 20170; Telephone: (703) 787-1721; Fax: (703) 787-1053; E-mail address: james.cimato@mms.gov.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Panels of MMS, and non-MMS scientists (government, public and private sector as appropriate), review and evaluate proposals. Criteria for judging proposals include mission relevance, technical merit, and the quality and appropriateness of the personnel, including past performance and publication record, project management, logistics plan, safety management, permits and interagency coordination, budget/matching funds, and where appropriate, minimization of impacts.



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