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Outer Continental Shelf

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act defines the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) as all submerged lands lying seaward of state coastal waters under U.S. jurisdiction. The law authorizes the Department of Interior (DOI) to lease OCS lands to prevent waste and conserve natural resources, and to grant leases to the highest responsible qualified bidder as determined by competitive bidding procedures. The Deepwater Port Act authorizes the Department of Transportation, after consultation with DOI, to waive the removal requirements for a deepwater port if its components can be used in conjunction with a mineral lease sale. OCS leases or permits may be cancelled if continued activity is likely to cause serious harm to life, including fish and other aquatic life. Economic, social, and environmental values of the renewable and nonrenewable resources must be considered in management of the OCS. It is required that an environmental study be done for any region to be included in a lease sale, to assess and manage environmental impacts on the OCS.

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