Thursday, February 3, 2011

The National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine by Capt. Bill Donaldson, NOSAC Deep Water Ports Representative.

From its beginnings, the Coast Guard has depended on existing internal resources to provide guidance for missions including public safety, national security, environmental stewardship, and exploration and development of mineral and energy resources beneath the U.S. outer continental shelf.

The Coast Guard’s role in public safety and national security has changed over the years. More focus has been directed toward security, which consequently significantly increased the Coast Guard’s role in offshore activities, particularly since the tragic events of 9/11. These additional mandated tasks prompted the Coast Guard to look for alternative means to gather information to fulfill its role in the rulemaking process for offshore activities. The Coast Guard found one means in the National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee (NOSAC).

NOSAC is a voluntary group assembled to assist the Coast Guard in gathering information for the rulemaking process, particularly with regard to rules related to protection of the safety and welfare of offshore workers, safeguarding the environment, and resource management. The passage of the Federal Advisory Committee Act laid the groundwork for forming NOSAC. In 1988, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, under which the Coast Guard operated, created NOSAC to provide a public forum capable of rendering advice on, consultation with, and discussions of safety matters and concerns related to OCS activities.

The group acts in an advisory capacity to the Commandant of the Coast Guard on matters related to the offshore mineral and energy recovery industry. The committee is also responsive to specific assignments related to conducting studies, inquiries, and workshops as authorized or directed by the Commandant.

NOSAC reports to the Commandant of the Coast Guard through its sponsor, the Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security, and Environmental Protection, who designates NOSAC’s executive director. The National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee is composed of not more than 15 members from various sectors of the offshore industry, appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security from recommendations made by the Commandant of the Coast Guard.

The majority of NOSAC members are made up of those involved in offshore exploration and energy recovery resources who have devoted time to assisting the Coast Guard in its mission to protect the offshore community’s workforce. Additional members come from the environmental community, the general public, and the deepwater ports community. NOSAC meets bi-annually, and the meetings are open to the public.

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