[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 65 (Friday, April 4, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 18930-18931]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-07514]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

[MMAA104000]


Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), Gulf of Mexico (GOM), Oil and Gas 
Lease Sales, Western Planning Area (WPA) Lease Sales 246 and 248

AGENCY: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Intent (NOI) to Prepare a Supplemental Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS) and an Announcement of Scoping Meetings and 
Comment Period for Proposed Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Western 
Planning Area Lease Sales 246 and 248.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Consistent with the regulations implementing the National 
Environmental Policy Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) (NEPA), 
BOEM is announcing its intent to prepare a Supplemental EIS for 
proposed Western Planning Area (WPA) Lease Sales 246 and 248 in the 
Gulf of Mexico (WPA 246/248 Supplemental EIS). The WPA 246/248 
Supplemental EIS will update the environmental and socioeconomic 
analyses in the Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sales: 2012-2017; 
Western Planning Area Lease Sales 229, 233, 238, 246, and 248; Central 
Planning Area Lease Sales 227, 231, 235, 241, and 247, Final 
Environmental Impact Statement (OCS EIS/EA BOEM 2012-019) (2012-2017 
WPA/CPA Multisale EIS), Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sales: 
2013-2014; Western Planning Area Lease Sale 233; Central Planning Area 
Lease Sale 231, Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (OCS 
EIS/EA BOEM 2013-0118) (WPA 233/CPA 231 Supplemental EIS), and Gulf of 
Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sales: 2014-2016; Western Planning Area 
Lease Sales 238, 246, and 248, Final Supplemental Environmental Impact 
Statement (OCS EIS/EA BOEM 2014-009) (WPA 238/246/248 Supplemental 
EIS). The 2012-2017 WPA/CPA Multisale EIS was completed in July 2012. 
The WPA 233/CPA 231 Supplemental EIS was completed in April 2013. The 
WPA 238/246/248 Supplemental EIS was completed in March 2014.
    The WPA 246/248 Supplemental EIS will supplement the NEPA documents 
cited above for WPA lease sales in order to consider new circumstances 
and information arising from, among other things, the Deepwater Horizon 
explosion, oil spill, and response. The WPA 246/248 Supplemental EIS 
analysis will focus on updating the baseline conditions and potential 
environmental effects of oil and natural gas leasing, exploration, 
development, and production in the WPA.
    The WPA 246/248 Supplemental EIS analysis will also focus on the 
potential environmental effects of oil and natural gas leasing, 
exploration, development, and production in the WPA identified through 
the Area Identification procedure as the proposed lease sale area. In 
addition to the no action alternative (i.e., canceling a proposed lease 
sale), other alternatives may be considered for the proposed WPA lease 
sales, such as deferring certain areas from the proposed lease sale 
area.

DATES: Comments should be submitted by May 5, 2014 to the address 
specified in SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on the WPA 246/248 
Supplemental EIS, the submission of comments, or BOEM's policies 
associated with this notice, please contact Mr. Gary D. Goeke, Chief, 
Environmental Assessment Section, Office of Environment (GM 623E), 
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, 1201 
Elmwood Park Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70123-2394, telephone (504) 
736-3233.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On August 27, 2012, the Secretary of the 
Interior approved the OCS Oil & Gas Leasing Program: 2012-2017 (2012-
2017 Five-Year Program). This Supplemental EIS will consider the two 
remaining WPA sales for this 2012-2017 Five-Year Program. Proposed WPA 
Lease Sales 246 and 248 are tentatively scheduled to be held in 2015 
and 2016, respectively. The proposed WPA lease sale area encompasses 
virtually all of the WPA's 28.58 million acres, with the exception of 
whole and partial blocks within the boundary of the Flower Garden Banks 
National Marine Sanctuary.
    This Federal Register notice is not an announcement to hold a 
proposed lease sale, but it is a continuation of information gathering 
and is published early in the environmental review process, in 
furtherance of the goals of NEPA. The comments received during the 
scoping comment period will help form the content of the WPA 246/248 
Supplemental EIS and will be summarized in presale documentation 
prepared during the decision making process for proposed WPA Lease Sale 
246. If, after completion of the WPA 246/248 Supplemental EIS, the 
Secretary of the Interior decides to hold a lease sale, then the lease 
sale area identified in the final Notice of Sale may exclude or defer 
certain lease blocks from the area offered. However, for purposes of 
the WPA 246/248 Supplemental EIS and to adequately assess the potential 
impacts of an areawide lease sale, BOEM is assuming that all unleased 
blocks may be offered in proposed WPA Lease Sales 246 and 248.
    In order to ensure a greater level of transparency during the Outer 
Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) stages and tiered NEPA processes of 
the Five-Year Program, BOEM established an alternative and mitigation 
tracking table, which is designed to track the receipt and treatment of 
alternative and mitigation suggestions. Section 4.3.2 of the Outer 
Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2012-2017; Final 
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (the Five-Year Program EIS) 
(http://www.boem.gov/5-Year/2012-2017/PEIS.aspx) presented a list of 
deferral and alternative requests that were received during the 
development of the Five-Year Program EIS, but were determined to be 
more appropriately considered at subsequent OCSLA and NEPA stages. The 
2012-2017 WPA/CPA Multisale EIS addressed these deferral and 
alternative requests, but they were ultimately deemed inappropriate for 
further analysis as separate alternatives or deferrals from those 
already included and considered in the 2012-2017 WPA/CPA Multisale EIS. 
In this and future NEPA analyses, BOEM will continue to evaluate 
whether these or other deferral or alternative requests warrant 
additional consideration as appropriate. (Please refer to Chapter 
2.2.1.2 of the 2012-2017 WPA/CPA Multisale EIS for a complete 
discussion; http://www.boem.gov/Environmental-Stewardship/Environmental-Assessment/NEPA/BOEM-2012-019_v1.aspx.) A key principle 
at each stage in the NEPA process is to identify how the 
recommendations for deferral and mitigation requests are being 
addressed and whether new information or

[[Page 18931]]

circumstances favor new or different analytical approaches in response 
to these requests.
    Additionally, BOEM has created a tailored map of the potentially 
affected area through the Multipurpose Marine Cadastre (MMC) Web site 
(http://boem.gov/Oil-and-Gas-Energy-Program/Leasing/Five-Year-Program/Lease-Sale-Schedule/Interactive-Maps.aspx). The MMC is an integrated 
marine information system that provides a comprehensive look at 
geospatial data and ongoing activities and studies occurring in the 
area being considered. This Web site provides the ability to view 
multiple data layers of existing geospatial data.
    Scoping Process: This NOI also serves to announce the scoping 
process for identifying issues for the WPA 246/248 Supplemental EIS. 
Throughout the scoping process, Federal, State, Tribal, and local 
governments and the general public have the opportunity to help BOEM 
determine significant resources and issues, impacting factors, 
reasonable alternatives, and potential mitigating measures to be 
analyzed in the WPA 246/248 Supplemental EIS, and to provide additional 
information. BOEM will also use the NEPA commenting process to initiate 
the section 106 consultation process of the National Historic 
Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470f), as provided for in 36 CFR 
800.2(d)(3).
    Pursuant to the regulations implementing the procedural provisions 
of NEPA, BOEM will hold public scoping meetings in Texas and Louisiana 
on the WPA 246/248 Supplemental EIS. The purpose of these meetings is 
to solicit comments on the scope of the WPA 246/248 Supplemental EIS. 
BOEM's scoping meetings will be held at the following places and times:
     Corpus Christi, Texas: Tuesday, April 22, 2014, Springhill 
Suites, 4331 South Padre Island Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas 78411, one 
meeting beginning at 1:00 p.m. CDT; and,
     New Orleans, Louisiana: Thursday, April 24, 2014, Bureau 
of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, 1201 Elmwood 
Park Boulevard, New Orleans, Louisiana 70123, one meeting beginning at 
1:00 p.m. CDT.
    Cooperating Agency: BOEM invites other Federal, State, Tribal, and 
local governments to consider becoming cooperating agencies in the 
preparation of the WPA 246/248 Supplemental EIS. We invite qualified 
government entities to inquire about cooperating agency status for the 
WPA 246/248 Supplemental EIS. Following the guidelines from the Council 
on Environmental Quality (CEQ), qualified agencies and governments are 
those with ``jurisdiction by law or special expertise.'' Potential 
cooperating agencies should consider their authority and capacity to 
assume the responsibilities of a cooperating agency and should remember 
that an agency's role in the environmental analysis neither enlarges 
nor diminishes the final decision making authority of any other agency 
involved in the NEPA process. Upon request, BOEM will provide potential 
cooperating agencies with a written summary of ground rules for 
cooperating agencies, including time schedules and critical action 
dates, milestones, responsibilities, scope and detail of cooperating 
agencies' contributions, and availability of predecisional information. 
BOEM anticipates this summary will form the basis for a Memorandum of 
Agreement between BOEM and any cooperating agency. Agencies should also 
consider the ``Factors for Determining Cooperating Agency Status'' in 
Attachment 1 to CEQ's January 30, 2002, Memorandum for the Heads of 
Federal Agencies: Cooperating Agencies in Implementing the Procedural 
Requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. These documents 
are available at the following location on the Internet: http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/nepapub/nepa_documents/RedDont/G-CEQ-CoopAgenciesImplem.pdf.
    BOEM, as the lead agency, will not provide financial assistance to 
cooperating agencies. Even if an organization is not a cooperating 
agency, opportunities will exist to provide information and comments to 
BOEM during the normal public input stages of the NEPA/EIS process. For 
further information about cooperating agencies, please contact Mr. Gary 
D. Goeke at (504) 736-3233.
    Comments: All interested parties, including Federal, State, Tribal, 
and local governments, and other organizations and members of the 
public, may submit written comments on the scope of the WPA 246/248 
Supplemental EIS, significant issues that should be addressed, 
alternatives that should be considered, potential mitigating measures, 
and the types of oil and gas activities of interest in the proposed WPA 
lease sale area.
    Written scoping comments may be submitted in one of the following 
ways:
    1. In an envelope labeled ``Scoping Comments for the WPA 246/248 
Supplemental EIS'' and mailed (or hand delivered) to Mr. Gary D. Goeke, 
Chief, Environmental Assessment Section, Office of Environment (GM 
623E), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, 
1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, New Orleans, Louisiana 70123-2394;
    2. Through the regulations.gov web portal: Navigate to http://www.regulations.gov and search for ``Oil and Gas Lease Sales: Gulf of 
Mexico, Outer Continental Shelf; Western Planning Area Lease Sales 246 
and 248.'' (Note: It is important to include the quotation marks in 
your search terms.) Click on the ``Comment Now!'' button to the right 
of the document link. Enter your information and comment, then click 
``Submit''; or
    3. BOEM's email address: wpa246@boem.gov.
    Petitions, although accepted, do not generally provide useful 
information to assist in the development of alternatives, resources, 
and issues to be analyzed, or impacting factors. BOEM does not consider 
anonymous comments; please include your name and address as part of 
your submittal. BOEM makes all comments, including the names and 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that BOEM withhold 
their names and/or addresses from the public record; however, BOEM 
cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. If you wish your name 
and/or address to be withheld, you must state your preference 
prominently at the beginning of your comment. All submissions from 
organizations or businesses and from individuals identifying themselves 
as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses will be 
made available for public inspection in their entirety.

    Authority:  This NOI is published pursuant to the regulations 
(40 CFR 1501.7) implementing the provisions of NEPA.

    Dated: March 28, 2014.
Tommy P. Beaudreau,
Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
[FR Doc. 2014-07514 Filed 4-3-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-MR-P