[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 211 (Friday, October 31, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 64831-64832]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-25794]



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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

[FWS-R4-FHC-2014-N215; FVHC98130406900-XXX-FF04G01000]


Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill; Record of Decision for the Final 
Programmatic and Phase III Early Restoration Plan and Early Restoration 
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) and the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), notice is hereby given that 
the Federal and State natural resource trustee agencies (Trustees) have 
issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final Programmatic and Phase 
III Early Restoration Plan and Early Restoration Programmatic 
Environmental Impact Statement (Final Phase III ERP/PEIS). The ROD 
documents decisions by the Trustees under OPA: (1) Selection of the 
Preferred Alternative for the Programmatic Early Restoration Plan; and 
(2) selection of 44 projects for the Final Phase III Early Restoration 
Plan, subject to completing remaining permitting and consultation 
requirements, as specifically identified in Section 9 of the ROD.

ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: You may download the ROD at http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov or http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon. You may also view the ROD at any of the public 
repositories listed at http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nanciann Regalado at 678-296-6805 
(phone) or nanciann_regalado@fws.gov (email).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    On April 20, 2011, BP Exploration & Production Inc. and the 
Trustees agreed to the Framework for Early Restoration Addressing 
Injuries Resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Framework 
Agreement), 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 
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 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); \1\
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    \1\ Although a trustee under OPA by virtue of the proximity of 
its facilities to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, DOD is not a 
member of the Trustee Council and does not participate in Trustee 
decision-making.
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     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.
    The Trustees considered hundreds of projects leading to the 
identification of a potential 28 future early restoration projects 
announced in the May 6, 2013 Federal Register notice (78 FR 26319). On 
June 4, 2013 (78 FR 33431), the Trustees announced their intent to 
prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) under OPA 
and NEPA to evaluate the environmental consequences of early 
restoration project types, as well as to propose a Phase III Early 
Restoration Plan to address injuries from the Deepwater Horizon oil 
spill that would include the 28 early restoration projects announced in 
the May 6, 2013, Federal Register notice and potentially additional 
early restoration projects. In accordance with NEPA, the Trustees 
conducted scoping to identify the concerns of the affected public, 
Federal agencies, States, and Indian tribes; to involve the public in 
the decision making process; to facilitate efficient early restoration 
planning and environmental review; to define the issues and 
alternatives that would be examined in detail; and to save time by 
ensuring that draft documents adequately address relevant issues. A 
scoping process reduces paperwork and delay by ensuring that important 
issues are considered early in the decision making process. To gather 
public input, the Trustees hosted six public meetings and accepted 
written comment electronically and via U.S. mail during the scoping 
period.
    A notice of availability of the Draft Programmatic and Phase III 
Early Restoration Plan and Draft Early Restoration Programmatic 
Environmental Impact Statement (Draft Phase III ERP/PEIS) was published 
in the Federal Register on December 6, 2013 (78 FR 73555). The Draft 
Phase III ERP/PEIS considered programmatic alternatives for early 
restoration and proposed alternatives for 44 early restoration projects 
in Phase III of early restoration consistent with the project types 
included in the proposed programmatic alternative. The Trustees 
provided the public with 75 days to review and comment on the Draft 
Phase III ERP/PEIS (including a 15-day extension of the original 
announced 60-day comment period). To facilitate public participation, 
the Trustees also held public meetings in Mobile, Alabama; Long Beach, 
Mississippi; Belle Chasse, Thibodaux, and Lake Charles, Louisiana; Port 
Arthur, Galveston, and Corpus Christi, Texas; and Pensacola, Florida. 
The Trustees considered the public comments received, which informed 
the Trustees' analyses of programmatic alternatives and specific early 
restoration projects in the Final Phase III ERP/PEIS. A summary of the 
public comments received and the Trustees' responses to those comments 
are found in Chapter 13 of the Final Phase III ERP/PEIS.
    A notice of availability of the Final Phase III ERP/PEIS was 
published in the Federal Register on June 26, 2014 (79 FR 36328). The 
Final Phase III ERP/PEIS proposed early restoration programmatic 
alternatives and evaluated the potential environmental effects and 
cumulative effects of those alternatives. The Final Phase III ERP/PEIS 
also proposed 44 projects as described in the Final Phase III ERP/PEIS, 
totaling an estimated cost of approximately $627 million.
    Upon the completion of the Final Phase III ERP/PEIS, a Record of 
Decision

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(ROD) has been prepared. The ROD documents decisions by the Trustees 
under OPA: (1) Selection of the Preferred Alternative for the 
Programmatic Early Restoration Plan; and (2) selection of 44 projects 
for the Final Phase III Early Restoration Plan, subject to completing 
remaining permitting and consultation requirements, as specifically 
identified in Section 9 of the ROD. The Trustees' selection of the 44 
early restoration projects for the Final Phase III ERP/PEIS continues 
the process of using early restoration funding to restore natural 
resources, and ecological services, and to compensate for recreational 
use services injured or lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil 
spill.
    These projects are not intended to, and do not fully address all 
injuries caused by the spill or provide the extent of restoration 
needed to make the public and the environment whole. The Trustees 
anticipate that additional early restoration projects will be proposed 
as the early restoration process continues.

Administrative Record

    An Administrative Record has been established and can be viewed 
electronically at http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon/adminrecord/index.cfm.

Authorities

    The authorities for 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, the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), and the 
Framework Agreement.

Debora L. McClain,
Deputy DOI Deepwater Horizon NRDAR Case Manager.
[FR Doc. 2014-25794 Filed 10-30-14; 8:45 am]
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