[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 77 (Friday, April 20, 2012)]
[Pages 23741-23743]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-9581]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R4-FHC-2012-N093; FVHC98130406900Y4-XXX-FF04G01000]

DEEPWATER HORIZON Oil Spill; Final Phase I Early Restoration Plan 
and Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of final report.


SUMMARY: In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Framework Agreement for 
Early Restoration Addressing Injuries Resulting from the DEEPWATER 
HORIZON Oil Spill (Framework Agreement), notice is hereby given that

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the Federal and State natural resource trustee agencies (Trustees) have 
approved the Phase I Early Restoration Plan and Environmental 
Assessment (Phase I ERP/EA) describing the first eight restoration 
projects selected by the Trustees to commence the process of restoring 
natural resources and services injured or lost as a result of the 
DEEPWATER HORIZON oil spill, which occurred on or about April 20, 2010, 
in the Gulf of Mexico. The purpose of this notice is to inform the 
public of the availability of the Phase I ERP/EA.

ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: You may download the Phase I ERP/EA and 
the Framework Agreement at http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov or 
http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon. Alternatively, you may request a 
CD of the document (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). You may also 
review hard copies of the Phase I ERP/EA at any of the public 
repositories listed at http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon.




    On or about April 20, 2010, the mobile offshore drilling unit 
DEEPWATER HORIZON, which was being used to drill a well for BP 
Exploration and Production, Inc. (BP) in the Macondo prospect 
(Mississippi Canyon 252-MC252), experienced a significant explosion, 
fire and subsequent sinking in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in 
discharges of oil and other substances from the rig and from the 
wellhead on the seabed. An estimated 4.9 million barrels (210 million 
gallons) of oil were released from the well into the Gulf of Mexico 
over a period of approximately three months. In addition, approximately 
771,000 gallons of dispersants were applied to the waters of the spill 
area in an attempt to minimize impacts from spilled oil. Affected 
resources include ecologically, recreationally, and commercially 
important species and their habitats in the Gulf of Mexico and along 
the coastal areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and 
    Federal and State trustees (listed below) are conducting the 
natural resource damage assessment for the DEEPWATER HORIZON oil spill 
under the Oil Pollution Act 1990 (OPA; 33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.).
    The Trustees are:
     U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), as represented by 
the National Park Service, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of 
Land Management;
     National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on 
behalf of the U.S Department of Commerce;
     State of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration 
Authority, Oil Spill Coordinator's Office, Department of Environmental 
Quality, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and Department of 
Natural Resources;
     State of Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality;
     State of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural 
Resources and Geological Survey of Alabama;
     State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection 
and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; and
     Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas General Land 
Office, and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is a Trustee, but does not have 
affected lands in this Phase I ERP/EA.


    On April 20, 2011, BP agreed to provide up to $1 billion toward 
early restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico to address injuries to 
natural resources caused by the DEEPWATER HORIZON oil spill. The 
Framework Agreement provides a mechanism through which the Trustees and 
BP can work together ``to commence implementation of early restoration 
projects that will provide meaningful benefits to accelerate 
restoration in the Gulf as quickly as practicable'' prior to the 
completion of the natural resource damage assessment process or full 
resolution of the Trustees' natural resource damages claim.
    As the first step in this accelerated process, the Trustees 
proposed a suite of eight early restoration projects in a Phase I Draft 
Early Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (DERP/EA) made 
public December 14, 2011. The public was afforded 60 days to review and 
comment on the DERP/EA (77 FR 78016, December 15, 2011). During that 
review period, the Trustees also held 12 public meetings in January and 
February 2012 in the 5 Gulf States and Washington, DC to facilitate 
public comment on that plan.
    The Trustees considered the public comments on the DERP/EA prior to 
finalizing selection of the Phase 1 Early Restoration projects. The 
public comments received and the Trustees' responses are addressed in 
the Phase 1 ERP/EA at Chapter 5.

Overview of the Phase 1 ERP/EA

Early Restoration Plan Alternatives, Including the Selected Alternative

    The ERP/EA describes two early restoration alternatives: No 
Action--Natural Recovery (required for consideration by OPA) and 
Selected Alternative--Phase I Early Restoration Projects. Under the No 
Action Alternative, the trustees would not implement early restoration 
projects as described in this ERP/EA. Rather, the trustees would rely, 
for the time being, solely on natural recovery processes to restore 
natural resources to their pre-spill conditions and would undertake no 
early actions to accelerate recovery or to help address interim 
resource losses.
    The Selected Alternative includes eight projects that meet the 
selection criteria as described in the Phase I ERP/EA.

Selected Early Restoration Alternative

    The Selected Alternative includes the following suite of early 
restoration projects: (1) Lake Hermitage Marsh Creation--NRDA Early 
Restoration Project; (2) Louisiana Oyster Cultch Project; (3) 
Mississippi Oyster Cultch Restoration; (4) Mississippi Artificial Reef 
Habitat; (5) Marsh Island (Portersville Bay) Marsh Creation; (6) 
Alabama Dune Restoration Cooperative Project; (7) Florida Boat Ramp 
Enhancement and Construction; (8) Florida (Pensacola Beach) Dune 
Restoration. Each of these projects is expected to benefit a natural 
resource or service injured by the DEEPWATER HORIZON oil spill.
    This Phase I ERP/EA represents the initial set of projects selected 
as part of the early restoration process. Planning for additional early 
restoration actions is continuing. Neither the Phase I ERP/EA nor any 
subsequent plan for early restoration is intended to or will fully 
address all injuries caused by the spill or provide the extent of 
restoration needed to satisfy claims against responsible parties. 
Further comprehensive restoration will still be required to fully 
compensate the public for natural resource losses from the oil spill.

Administrative Record

    The documents comprising the Administrative Record can be viewed 
electronically at http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon/adminrecord/index.cfm.


    The primary author of this notice is Nanciann Regalado.

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    The authorities of this action are the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 
(33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.), the implementing Natural Resource Damage 
Assessment regulations found at 15 CFR Part 990, and the Framework 

    Dated: April 16, 2012.
Cynthia K. Dohner,
DOI Authorized Official.
[FR Doc. 2012-9581 Filed 4-18-12; 11:15 am]