[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 24 (Tuesday, February 5, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 8184-8185]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-02430]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

[FWS-R4-FHC-2013-N026; FVHC98130406900-XXX-FF04G01000]


DEEPWATER HORIZON Oil Spill; Final Phase II Early Restoration 
Plan and Environmental Review

AGENCY: Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of final report.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Framework Agreement 
for Early Restoration Addressing Injuries Resulting from the DEEPWATER 
HORIZON Oil Spill (Framework Agreement), notice is hereby given that 
the Federal and State natural resource trustee agencies (Trustees) have 
approved the Phase II Early Restoration Plan and Environmental Review 
(Phase II ERP/ER) describing the second set of restoration projects 
selected by the Trustees to continue 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 II ERP/ER.

ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: You may download the Phase II ERP/ER 
and the Framework Agreement at http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon. You 
may also review hard copies of the Phase II ERP/ER at any of the public 
repositories listed at http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian Spears, at 
fw4coastalDERPcomments@fws.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

    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 87 days. In addition, approximately 1.84 million 
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 Texas.
    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.). 
Pursuant to OPA, Federal and State agencies and Indian tribes may act 
as trustees on behalf of the public to assess natural resource injuries 
and losses and to determine the damages required to compensate the 
public for those injuries and losses. OPA further instructs the 
designated trustees to develop and implement a plan for the 
restoration, rehabilitation, replacement, or acquisition of the 
equivalent of the injured natural resources under their trusteeship.
    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;
     U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA);
     U.S. Department of Defense (DOD);
     U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA);
     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
     For the State of Texas: Texas Parks and Wildlife 
Department, Texas General Land Office, and Texas Commission on 
Environmental Quality.

Background

    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. This early 
restoration agreement, entitled ``Framework for Early Restoration 
Addressing Injuries Resulting from the DEEPWATER HORIZON Oil Spill'' 
(Framework Agreement), represents a preliminary step toward the 
restoration of injured natural resources. The Framework Agreement is 
intended to expedite the start of restoration in the Gulf in advance of 
the completion of the injury assessment process. 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 
resolution of the Trustees' natural resource damages claim.
    The Trustees actively solicited public input on restoration project 
ideas through a variety of mechanisms, including public meetings, 
electronic communication, and creation of a Trustee-wide public Web 
site and database to share information and receive public project 
submissions. Their key objective in pursuing early restoration is to 
secure tangible recovery of natural resources and natural resource 
services for the public's benefit while the longer-term process of 
fully assessing injury and damages is underway. As the first step in 
this accelerated process, the Trustees released, after public review of 
a draft, a Phase I Early Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment 
(Phase I ERP/EA) in April 2012. The Phase I ERP is currently being 
implemented.
    In a continuation of the early restoration process, the Trustees 
proposed two additional early restoration projects in a Phase II Draft 
Early Restoration Plan and Environmental Review (Phase II DERP/ER) to 
address response injuries from the DEEPWATER HORIZON oil spill. They 
address injuries to the nesting habitats of beach-nesting birds and 
loggerhead sea turtles that resulted from response activities to the 
oil spill (e.g., efforts to prevent oil from reaching beaches and to 
remove oil from beaches). These projects address a

[[Page 8185]]

number of specific public comments on the Phase I ERP/EA that requested 
development of additional habitat and wildlife-based early restoration 
projects. Because loggerhead sea turtles and beach-nesting birds begin 
nesting along the Northeast Gulf coast in February, the Trustees 
recognized the need to implement these two projects in a timely manner 
to be effective during the 2013 breeding season and so expedited their 
proposal. The Trustees continue to work with BP to develop additional 
restoration projects in accordance with the Framework Agreement. The 
Alternatives within this plan are not intended to, and do not fully, 
address all injuries caused by the spill or provide the extent of 
restoration needed to satisfy claims against BP.
    Notice of availability of the Phase II DERP/ER was published in the 
Federal Register on November 6, 2012. (77 FR 66626, November 6, 2012) 
The public was afforded 30 days to review and comment on the Phase II 
DERP/ER. During that review period, the Trustees also held a public 
meeting in Pensacola, Florida, on November 13, 2012, to facilitate 
public comment on the Phase II DERP/ER.
    The Trustees considered the public comments received on the Phase 
II DERP/ER prior to finalizing selection of the Phase II Early 
Restoration projects. The public comments received and the Trustees' 
responses are addressed in Chapter 5 of the Phase II ERP/--ER.

Overview of the Phase II ERP/ER

Early Restoration Plan Alternatives, Including the Selected Alternative

    The Phase II ERP/ER describes two early restoration alternatives: 
No Action--Natural Recovery (required for consideration by OPA) and 
Selected Alternative--Phase II Early Restoration Projects. Under the No 
Action alternative, the Trustees would not implement early restoration 
projects as described in the Phase II ERP/ER. Rather, the No Action 
approach would result in delaying protection and improvement of 
important nesting habitats injured by response actions during the oil 
spill.
    The Selected Alternative includes two projects that meet the 
selection criteria, as described in the Phase II ERP/ER.

Selected Early Restoration Alternative

    The Selected Alternative includes two projects intended to protect 
and enhance beach nesting habitats used by birds and sea turtles. The 
selected projects will, among other things, protect bird-nesting 
habitat with symbolic fencing and signs and reduce the presence of 
harmful lighting on certain beaches as described in the plan. The 
projects are: (1) Enhanced Management of Avian Breeding Habitat Injured 
by Response in the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, and Mississippi; and (2) 
Improving Habitat Injured by Spill Response: Restoring the Night Sky. 
Each of these projects will benefit coastal nesting habitats injured by 
response to the DEEPWATER HORIZON oil spill.
    This Phase II ERP/ER represents the second set of projects selected 
as part of the early restoration process. Planning for additional early 
restoration actions is continuing. Neither the Phase II ERP/ER 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

Author

    The primary author of this notice is James Haas (james_haas@nps.gov).

Authorities

    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 
Agreement.

Cynthia K. Dohner,
DOl Authorized Official.
[FR Doc. 2013-02430 Filed 2-4-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P