[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 19 (Thursday, January 29, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 4939-4941]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-01756]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

[BOEM-2014-0085; MMAA104000]


Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), 2017-2022 Oil and Gas Leasing 
Program

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

ACTION: Notice of Intent (NOI) to Prepare a Programmatic Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS) and Notice of Scoping.

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SUMMARY: Consistent with the regulations implementing the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), 
BOEM is announcing its intent to prepare an EIS to inform the decisions 
that will be taken during the preparation and implementation of the 
2017-2022 Oil and Gas Leasing Program (2017-2022 Program). Section 18 
of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1344) 
requires the development of an OCS oil and gas leasing program every 
five years. The 2017-2022 Program must address the size, timing and 
location of the lease sales to be held under it. Section 18 also 
requires a multi-step process of consultation and analysis that must be 
completed before the Secretary of the Interior may approve a new 
Program. BOEM initiated the 2017-2022 Program process by issuing a 
request for information and comments (RFI) in June 2014. The remaining 
process required by section 18 of the OCS Lands Act includes 
development of a Draft Proposed Program (DPP), a Proposed Program, a 
Proposed Final Program (PFP), and Secretarial approval of the 2017-2022 
Program.
    The EIS is developed in concert with the 2017-2022 Program 
documents. The EIS will analyze the potential direct, indirect, and 
cumulative impacts of possible OCS oil and gas activities that could 
result from lease sales contemplated under the 2017-2022 Program. The 
scope of the EIS will be based on the DPP after consideration of public 
input received during the scoping period for the EIS. The DPP includes 
potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico (Western, Central, and a 
small portion of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas not subject 
to Congressional moratorium), Atlantic (Mid and South Atlantic Planning 
Areas), and Alaska (Cook Inlet, Chukchi, and Beaufort Planning Areas) 
(for details, see the DPP at http://www.boem.gov/Five-Year-Program/).
    This notice starts the formal scoping process for the EIS under 40 
CFR 1501.7 of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations 
and solicits input from the public regarding alternatives to the 
proposed action, impacting factors, environmental resources and issues 
of concern in the DPP area, and possible mitigating measures that 
should be evaluated in the EIS. The purpose of scoping is to determine 
the appropriate content for a focused and balanced programmatic 
environmental analysis by (a) ensuring significant issues are 
identified early and properly studied during development of the 
Programmatic EIS; (b) identifying alternatives, mitigation measures, 
and analytic tools; and (c) identifying insignificant issues and 
narrowing the scope of the EIS.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This NOI informs the public about the start 
of the EIS preparation process and continues information gathering to 
be done through formal scoping. This NOI is published early in the 
environmental review process in furtherance of the goals of NEPA. The 
comments received during public scoping will help frame and inform the 
content of the EIS. Alternatives may be developed based on scoping 
comments. In addition to the No Action alternative required by CEQ 
regulations (i.e., not adopting a new oil and gas leasing program), 
other alternatives will be considered in the EIS.
    On June 16, 2014, BOEM published a RFI concerning the preparation 
of the 2017-2022 Program. Based on the input received in response to 
the RFI, BOEM is releasing the DPP concurrently with this NOI. The 
Draft EIS will be released in about one year from the date of the NOI 
to coincide with the release of the Proposed Program. Stakeholders are 
encouraged to go to www.boemoceaninfo.com for additional information 
about the EIS and the 2017-2022 Program.
    Scoping Process: BOEM is aware of many of the key issues, concerns, 
and potential conflicts to be considered in the EIS for the 2017-2022 
Program. Some of these concerns were reflected in responses to the RFI. 
Additional national and regional issues and concerns may be identified 
and addressed as a result of input received during the scoping period 
initiated by this NOI. Therefore, BOEM invites the public to submit 
comments during the EIS scoping process to assist BOEM in drafting the 
EIS. We recommend that you provide scientific information, technical 
data, or anecdotal evidence, etc., to support your comments. 
Specifically, BOEM seeks focused input, including input in geospatial 
format as we intend to use geospatial information

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as much as possible in the EIS analyses. BOEM requests that to the 
extent possible, geospatial information be provided in .kml, .kmz, or 
other ESRI-compatible geographic information system format, or through 
a clearly-drawn image on a map with coordinates. To support this 
spatially focused scoping process, BOEM invites the public to access 
our interactive EIS geospatial portal (https://www.csawebmap.com/boemoceaninfo/), a Web site that allows the user to view maps, 
visualize available data, and identify specific areas of concern. You 
can then submit any resulting product through www.regulations.gov as an 
attachment to your comments. We ask that you provide a rationale for 
any alternatives and demarcate any recommended inclusions, exclusions, 
or deferrals as clearly as possible. The more specific your comments 
and information are (e.g. geographic areas, timing, known scientific 
information, etc.), the more they will assist BOEM to frame the scope 
of the EIS.
    BOEM will also be providing information and the opportunity for 
public comment at scoping meetings in locations near the BOEM planning 
areas included in the DPP. BOEM's scoping meetings will be held using 
an open house format in larger cities, including Anchorage, AK, and a 
facilitated group format in all other Alaska locations. The open house 
format allows members of the public to come to a meeting any time 
during meeting hours at their convenience to view information, discuss 
the Programmatic EIS and scoping process with BOEM staff, and provide 
scoping input. In the facilitated group format, each attendee in a 
group will have opportunity to express input while a BOEM facilitator 
moderates and helps to focus input. The following scoping meetings are 
planned for the Programmatic EIS.

 Washington, DC
    [cir] February 9, 2015; Embassy Suites Washington DC Convention 
Center, 900 10th Street NW., Washington, DC; 2:00-7:00 p.m.; valet 
parking at no charge to meeting attendees
 Alaska
    [cir] February 9, 2015; Westmark Hotel and Conference Center, 813 
Noble Street, Fairbanks, Alaska; 7:00-10:00 p.m.
    [cir] February 11, 2015, Ninilchik School, 15735 Sterling Highway, 
Ninilchik, Alaska; 7:00-10:00 p.m.
    [cir] February 12, 2015, Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Chambers, 
144 North Binkley Street, Soldotna, Alaska; 7:00-10:00 p.m.
    [cir] February 16, 2015; Kisik Community Center, 2230 2nd Avenue, 
Nuiqsut, Alaska; 7:00-10:00 p.m.
    [cir] February 17, 2015; Inupiat Heritage Center, 5421 North Star 
Street, Barrow, Alaska; 7:00-10:00 p.m.
    [cir] February 18, 2015; Kaktovik Community Center, 2051 Barter 
Avenue, Kaktovik, Alaska; 7:00-10:00 p.m.
    [cir] February 19, 2015; R. James Community Center, Wainwright, 
Alaska; 7:00-10:00 p.m.
    [cir] February 23, 2015; Northwest Arctic Borough Assembly 
Chambers, 163 Lagoon Street, Kotzebue, Alaska; 7:00-10:00 p.m.
    [cir] February 24, 2015; Kali School, 1029 Qasigiakik Street, Point 
Lay, Alaska; 7:00-10:00 p.m.
    [cir] February 25, 2015; City Qalgi Center, City of Point Hope, 
Alaska; 7:00-10:00 p.m.
    [cir] March 2, 2015; Anchorage Marriott Downtown, 820 West 7th 
Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska; 3:00-7:00 p.m.
 Atlantic
    [cir] February 11, 2015; Sheraton Norfolk Waterside, 777 Waterside 
Drive, Norfolk, Virginia; 3:00-7:00 p.m.; validated participant parking 
at hotel
    [cir] February 17, 2015; Blockade Runner, 275 Waynick Boulevard, 
Wilmington, North Carolina; 3:00-7:00 p.m.; free parking
    [cir] February 19, 2015; Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, 225 
East Coastline Drive, Jacksonville, Florida; 3:00-7:00 p.m.; validated 
participant parking at hotel
    [cir] March 9, 2015; Loews Annapolis, 126 West Street, Annapolis, 
Maryland; 3:00-7:00 p.m.; validated participant parking at hotel
    [cir] March 11, 2015; Wyndham Garden Mount Pleasant/Charleston 1330 
Stuart Engals Boulevard, Mount Pleasant, SC; 3:00-7:00 p.m.; free 
parking
 Gulf of Mexico
    [cir] February 23, 2015; Houston Marriott West Loop Hotel, 1750 W. 
Loop South Freeway, Houston, Texas; 3:00-7:00 p.m.; $5 parking at hotel
    [cir] February 25, 2015; University of New Orleans, Lindy C. Boggs 
International Conference Center, 2045 Lakeshore Drive, Suite 248, New 
Orleans, Louisiana; 3:00-7:00 p.m.; free parking
    [cir] February 26, 2015; Mobile Marriott Hotel, 3101 Airport 
Boulevard, Mobile, Alabama; 3:00-7:00 p.m.; free parking

    Cooperating Agencies: BOEM invites other Federal agencies and 
state, tribal, and local governments to consider becoming cooperating 
agencies in the preparation of the EIS. Pursuant to CEQ regulations and 
guidelines, qualified agencies and governments are those with 
``jurisdiction by law or special expertise.'' Potential cooperating 
agencies and governments should consider their authority and capacity 
to assume the responsibilities of a cooperating agency and remember 
that an agency's role as a cooperating agency in the environmental 
analysis neither enlarges nor diminishes their authority in the NEPA 
process. BOEM will provide potential cooperating agencies with a 
written summary of expectations for cooperating agencies, including 
schedules, milestones, responsibilities, scope and expected detail of 
cooperating agencies' contributions, and availability of predecisional 
information. BOEM anticipates this summary will form the basis for a 
Cooperating Agency Agreement between BOEM and any cooperating agency. 
Agencies should also consider the ``Factors for Determining Cooperating 
Agency Status'' in 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. This document is 
available on the Web site, www.boemoceaninfo.com. BOEM, as lead agency, 
does not plan to 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 process. For further information about 
cooperating agencies, please contact Mr. Geoffrey L. Wikel at (703) 
787-1283.
    Public Comment: All interested parties, including Federal, state, 
tribal, and local governments, and others, may submit written comments 
on the scope of the EIS, significant issues that should be addressed, 
alternatives that should be considered, potential mitigation measures, 
and the types of oil and gas activities of interest (for example, gas 
in shallow water) in OCS Planning Areas included in the DPP.
    Written scoping comments may be submitted in one of the following 
ways:
    1. Mailed in an envelope labeled ``Scoping Comments for the 2017-
2022 Proposed Oil and Gas Leasing Program Programmatic EIS'' and mailed 
(or hand delivered) to Mr. Geoffrey L. Wikel, Acting Chief, Division of 
Environmental Assessment, Office of Environmental Program (HM 3107), 
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 381 Elden St. Herndon, VA 20170-
4817, telephone

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(703) 787-1283. Written scoping comments may also be hand delivered at 
a scoping meeting to the BOEM official in charge.
    2. Through the Regulations.gov web portal: Navigate to http://www.regulations.gov and under the Search tab, in the space provided, 
type in Docket ID: BOEM-2014-0085 to submit comments and to view other 
comments already submitted. Information on using www.regulations.gov, 
including instructions for accessing documents, submitting comments, 
and viewing the docket after the close of the comment period, is 
available through the links under the box entitled ``Are you new to 
this site?''
    3. The Programmatic EIS Web site, www.boemoceaninfo.com, contains 
program related information, other links, and a geospatial portal you 
can use to make maps that can then be attached to comments submitted 
via www.regulations.gov or by mail. Scientific papers, data, and maps 
can accompany comments as attachments.
    Comments that provide scientific information, geospatial or other 
data, or anecdotal evidence, etc., to support your input are most 
useful.
    It is BOEM practice to make comments, including names and addresses 
of respondents available for public review. BOEM does not consider 
anonymous comments. Please include your name and address as part of 
your submittal. Individual respondents may request that BOEM withhold 
their names and/or addresses from the public record, but BOEM cannot 
guarantee that it 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.

DATES:  Comments should be submitted by March 30, 2015 to the address 
specified above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on the 2017-2022 EIS, 
the submission of comments, or BOEM's policies associated with this 
notice, please contact Mr. Geoffrey L. Wikel, Acting Chief, Division of 
Environmental Assessment, Office of Environmental Program, Bureau of 
Ocean Energy Management (HM 3107), 381 Elden Street, Herndon, VA 20170-
4817, telephone (703) 787-1283.

    Authority:  This NOI to prepare the 2017-2022 EIS is published 
pursuant to the regulations (40 CFR 1501.7) implementing the 
provisions of NEPA.

    Dated: January 7, 2015.
Abigail Ross Hopper,
Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
[FR Doc. 2015-01756 Filed 1-28-15; 8:45 am]
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