The Division of Mineral Resources (DMR) has five branches that support the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the minerals and geothermal programs of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), and the U.S. Geological Survey, as they manage the onshore and offshore mineral and energy wealth of the United States. These bureaus and offices work to promote safety, ensure that onshore lands and the outer Continental Shelf (OCS) are used responsibly, study the Nation’s resources, and protect the environment for the future.
The Associate Solicitor for the Division of Mineral Resources is Karen Hawbecker. The general contact for DMR is 202-208-3175.
The Branch of Conventional Ocean Resources (BCOR) advises BOEM as it administers its offshore conventional energy program, including offshore oil and gas leasing and plans for oil and gas exploration and development, provides access to marine minerals for beach renourishment and other coastal restoration projects, and implements an offshore carbon sequestration program. BOEM has jurisdiction over millions of acres of subsea land that comprises the U.S. OCS. This branch provides legal advice for BOEM’s offshore conventional energy program and its transactional and financial issues, administrative and environmental laws, legislative proposals, and administrative and judicial litigation. It collaborates with the Department of Justice on judicial litigation related to BOEM’s offshore conventional energy work. The broad array of issues requires in-depth research from BCOR attorneys on the science and engineering involved in developing energy in an ocean environment, as well as mineral extraction from the seabed, the Law of the Sea, maritime boundaries, protected species, pollution, and other related matters of ocean law.
The Branch of Renewable Ocean Resources (BROR) advises BOEM as it administers its offshore renewable energy program, including offshore wind energy leasing and development. BOEM has jurisdiction over millions of acres of subsea land that comprises the U.S. OCS. This branch provides legal advice for BOEM’s offshore renewable energy program and its transactional and financial issues, administrative and environmental laws, legislative proposals, and administrative and judicial litigation. It collaborates with the Department of Justice on judicial litigation related to BOEM’s offshore renewable energy work. BOEM is at the forefront of the renewable energy revolution with its offshore wind program, and the branch plays a crucial role in helping BOEM navigate the legal landscape of this nascent industry.
The Branch of Offshore Safety and Enforcement (BOSE) supports BSEE’s regulatory oversight of activities on the OCS, including oil and gas exploration and development, renewable energy projects, and other initiatives. Formed in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BSEE conserves OCS natural resources and protects the environment as well as human safety through the development and enforcement of sound operational standards. This branch provides advice and counsel on BSEE’s regulatory enforcement tools and authorities, which includes onsite facility inspections, oversight of oil spill response plans, and civil penalty assessment. The members of this branch assist in developing regulations that reflect current policy and operational direction, and when BSEE’s orders and actions are appealed, this branch defends them. This branch engages every day with decisionmakers at all levels of DOI’s operations, from policymakers at headquarters to inspectors in the field, from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Branch of Onshore Minerals (BOM) advises BLM as it manages 700 million acres of federal mineral estate and helps to write, defend, and implement regulations governing oil and gas operations, from hydraulic fracturing to venting-and-flaring. This branch also works with BLM on issues related to development of hard rock minerals (like lithium, vanadium, gold, silver, copper, and rare earth elements), solid leasable minerals (such as phosphate), sand and gravel, as well as the Federal coal program. In addition, this branch advises BLM on leasing land for geothermal energy production. The branch works with several other Federal agencies, more than a dozen states, several dozen Tribes, and numerous industry organizations, companies, citizen groups, and individuals in relation to these energy and mineral programs. The primary laws that this branch works with include the Mineral Leasing Act, the 1872 Mining Law, and the Geothermal Steam Act.
The Branch of Surface Mining (BSM) assists OSMRE with its mission to ensure that all coal mines in the United States are operated in a manner that protects citizens and the environment during mining operations and restores land to beneficial use following the end of mining operations. Additionally, the branch works with OSMRE to ensure that the negative effects of past mining are mitigated by pursuing the reclamation of abandoned coal mines, with a focus on reclaiming mines that pose health and safety hazards. Guided by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, this branch works with states, tribes, citizens, and other Federal agencies to ensure that coal mining is conducted in a manner that balances the Nation’s energy needs and environmental protection.