North American Submarine Cable Association (NASCA), in order to safeguard national security and economic interests, has urged BOEM to adopt measures to protect existing and planned submarine cable systems.
According to NASCA these submarine cable systems comprise the core of U.S. international communications and Internet infrastructure and have been identified by the U.S. Government as critical infrastructure.
NASCA also advised BOEM to address the unique legal protections afforded to such systems as integral parts of BOEM’s development of a new Five-Year Program.
In developing its next Five-Year Program, BOEM should expressly account for existing and planned submarine cable systems in the OCS, the Federal agencies regulating such systems, their national security and economic importance, and the unique treaty and statutory protections for such systems.
Furthermore, NASCA said that in its RFI, BOEM has neglected to identify submarine cable infrastructure as a critical marine activity requiring coordination with any oil and gas exploration or exploitation on the OCS.
In its response to 2014 RFI, the Association urges BOEM to implement a number of actions in its planning activities and documents for its next Five-Year Program, including, among other actions, withdrawing lease blocks with categorical exclusion zones, establishing coordination mechanisms with agencies that regulate submarine cables, and continued engagement with the Federal advisory committee advising the Federal Communications Commission on submarine cable protection.