Remaking Offshore Environment Regulations: Consultation

Closed 3 Aug 2018

Opened 16 Jul 2018

Overview

The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 (the Environment Regulations) made under the Commonwealth Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act) are scheduled to sunset on 1 April 2019.

The Environment Regulations provide for the robust regulation of environmental management of petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities in offshore areas. Under the Environment Regulations, titleholders who want to conduct a petroleum or greenhouse gas activity are required to prepare and implement an environment plan for the activity. The regulator (currently the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) for petroleum activities, and the responsible Commonwealth Minister for greenhouse gas activities) must assess the environment plan and decide whether to accept it.

The Australian government proposes to remake the Environment Regulations without substantive changes, due to the fact that the regulations were comprehensively reviewed and streamlined in 2014. Further changes to the regulations, in relation to revisions to environment plans consultation and transparency policy, will be progressed separately to and after the remake.

To ensure continuity of law, the Environment Regulations will be remade and registered . Minor technical amendments may be made to modernise provisions and update drafting in line with current practice.

Invitation to comment

We welcome comments on the proposal to remake the Environment Regulations without substantive amendment, including any feedback on whether the Regulations are operating effectively and efficiently.

Comments or any queries can be provided by emailing offshorepetroleumreform@industry.gov.au by Friday 3 August 2018.

Next Steps

Comments will be taken into consideration by the Department in progressing the remake of the current regulations.

Information on progress on the regulations process will be communicated via Australian Petroleum News.

Additional information

The department has consulted with the Office of Best Practice Regulation, which has agreed that remaking the regulations will have no more than minor impacts on business, community organisations or individuals, and changes in regulatory costs are likely to be nil or negligible.

Background

A comprehensive review of the Environment Regulations was concluded in 2013, with amended Regulations commencing on 28 February 2014.

The object of the review was to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the operation of the Environment Regulations and ensure the regulations provide a suitable basis for the regulator to minimise impacts on the environment arising from offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities.

As part of the review process, extensive stakeholder consultation was undertaken:

  • Consultation on draft terms of reference with industry and state and Territory governments.
  • An issues paper was released for public consideration and comment from 21 December 2012 to 28 February 2013. The department received 20 submissions from a range of industry, government, fishing and community stakeholders. The department considered a wide range of stakeholder views and feedback on operation of the Regulations, and these comments formed the final policy position and consideration of regulatory amendments.
  • An exposure draft of amendments to the Environment Regulations was released for public consideration and comment from 6 December to 20 December 2013.
  • Information sessions on the draft amendment regulation were held in Hobart, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
  • Following the consultation period, the draft amendments were revised further, taking into account comments received prior to finalisation and approval by Executive Council in February 2014.

Given that the extensive stakeholder consultation and regulatory impact analysis outlined above was undertaken within the last five years, and resulted in amendments that strengthened the effectiveness and efficiency of the Environment Regulations, the Department considers that regulatory impact analysis requirements for the remake of the Environment Regulations have been met, and further analysis is not required at this time.

Furthermore, the Environment Regulations are subject to ongoing improvement such as reforming the consultation and transparency requirements under the Environment Regulations which is currently underway.

There are four options to address automatic repeal of the Regulations: (1) remake the Regulations without amendment; (2) remake the Regulations with amendment; (3) seek a deferral of sunset date; (4) allow the Regulations to sunset.

Given the recent amendments to the Environment Regulations in 2014 arising from the comprehensive review as well as a policy process underway in relation to consultation and transparency requirements, no substantive changes are proposed at this point in time when remaking the sunsetting Regulations.

Automatic repeal (sunsetting) of legislative instruments

Under the Commonwealth Legislation Act 2003 (the Legislation Act), legislative instruments (such as regulations) cease to have effect (sunset) on the relevant sunsetting date (normally about 10 years after registration of the instrument), unless action is taken to extend it.

The sunsetting provisions in the Legislation Act and the Government’s best practice regulation requirements seek to ensure that suitable review mechanisms exist so that legislative instruments remain fit-for-purpose, necessary and relevant.

In general, there are three possible outcomes for instruments due to sunset. These are that an instrument is:

  • No longer required
  • Remade with amendments
  • Remade without amendments.

Audiences

  • Offshore minerals industry

Interests

  • Offshore mineral exploration and mining