The Office of Fossil Energy actively manages and/or oversees several Federal Advisory Committees and plays a unique role in providing advice, information and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy on general policy issues and/or technological developments related to coal, oil and natural gas. The Federal Advisory Committees include:
National Petroleum Council: The purpose of the Council is to advise the Secretary of Energy on matters related to oil and natural gas, or the oil and natural gas industries. The Council membership of about 200 persons is selected and appointed by the Secretary of Energy. Individual members serve without compensation as representatives of their industry or associated interests as a whole, not as representatives of their particular companies or affiliations.
National Coal Council: The National Coal Council provides advice and guidance on a continuing basis as requested by the Secretary of Energy on general policy matters pertaining to coal.
Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee: The Committee is to advise the Secretary of Energy on potential applications of methane hydrate; assist in developing recommendations and priorities for the methane hydrate research and development program; and submit to Congress one or more reports on an assessment of the research program and an assessment of the DOE 5-year research plan.
Ultra-Deepwater Advisory Committee: The Ultra-Deepwater Advisory Committee was established to advise on the development and implementation of programs related to ultra-deepwater natural gas and other petroleum resources, and review and comment on the program's annual plan.
Unconventional Resources Technology Advisory Committee: This Committee was established to advise on the development and implementation of programs related to onshore unconventional natural gas and other petroleum resources, and review and comment on the program's annual plan.
Oil Spill Commission: President Barack Obama established the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling through Executive Order 13543 on May 21, 2010. The Commission examined the relevant facts and circumstances concerning the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and developed options to guard against, and mitigate the impact of, any oil spills associated with offshore drilling in the future. The Designated Federal Officials for the Commission were FE's Christopher A. Smith and Elena Melchert from the Office of Oil and Natural Gas.
Natural Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board: In January 2011, the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) created a Natural Gas Subcommittee to evaluate what role natural gas might play in the clean energy economy of the future. On March 30, 2011, President Obama announced a plan for U.S. energy security in which he instructed the Secretary of Energy to work with other agencies, the natural gas industry, states, and environmental experts to improve the safety of shale gas development. As a result, Energy Secretary Steven Chu charged the Natural Gas Subcommittee with providing the SEAB with recommendations as to actions that can be taken to improve the safety and environmental performance of shale gas extraction processes, and other steps to ensure protection of public health and safety.
Multi-Agency Collaboration on Unconventional Oil and Gas Research: On April 13, 2012, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed among the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a multi-agency research plan to address the highest priority research questions associated with safely and prudently developing unconventional shale gas and tight oil reserves.