[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 192 (Monday, October 5, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 60126-60129]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-24913]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE201


Notice of Availability of a Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill; Draft 
Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (PDARP) and Draft 
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS)

AGENCY: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 
Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of availability of a Draft Programmatic Damage 
Assessment and Restoration Plan and Draft Programmatic Environmental 
Impact Statement; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) and the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Deepwater Horizon Federal 
and State natural resource trustee agencies (Trustees) have prepared a 
Draft Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Draft 
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Draft PDARP/PEIS). As 
required by OPA, in this Draft PDARP/PEIS, the Deepwater Horizon 
Trustees present the assessment of impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil 
spill on natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico and on the services 
those resources provide, and determine the restoration needed to 
compensate the public for these impacts. The Draft PDARP/PEIS describes 
the Trustees' programmatic alternatives considered to restore natural 
resources, ecological services, and recreational use services injured 
or lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Trustees 
evaluate these alternatives under criteria set forth in the OPA natural 
resource damage assessment regulations, and also evaluate the 
environmental consequences of the restoration alternatives in 
accordance with NEPA. The purpose of this notice is to inform the 
public of the availability of the Draft PDARP/PEIS and to seek public 
comments on the document.

DATES: The Trustees will consider public comments received on or before 
December 4, 2015.
    Public Meetings: The Trustees will host a series of public meetings 
to facilitate public review and comment on the Draft PDARP/PEIS. Both 
written and verbal public comments will be taken at each public 
meeting. The Trustees will hold an open house for each meeting followed 
by a formal meeting. Each public meeting will include a

[[Page 60127]]

presentation of the Draft PDARP/PEIS. Public meetings will be held 
between October 19th and November 18th. The full public meeting 
schedule is listed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: You may download the Draft PDARP/PEIS 
at http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov. Alternatively, you may 
request a CD of the Draft PDARP/PEIS (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT). You may also view the document at any of the public 
facilities listed at http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov. The 
Draft PDARP/PEIS also will be available for download at http://www.justice.gov/enrd/deepwater-horizon.
    Submitting Comments: You may submit comments on the Draft PDARP/
PEIS by one of following methods:
     Via the Web: http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov and
     U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 49567, 
Atlanta, GA 30345. Please note that mailed comments must be received on 
or before the comment deadline of December 4, 2015 to be considered.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Courtney Groeneveld at 
gulfspill.restoration@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

    On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon mobile drilling unit 
exploded, caught fire, and eventually sank in the Gulf of Mexico, 
resulting in a massive release of oil and other substances from BP's 
Macondo well. Tragically, 11 workers were killed and 17 injured by the 
explosion and fire. Initial efforts to cap the well following the 
explosion were unsuccessful, and for 87 days after the explosion, the 
well continuously and uncontrollably discharged oil and natural gas 
into the northern Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 3.19 million barrels 
(134 million gallons) of oil were released into the ocean, by far the 
largest offshore oil spill in the history of the United States.
    Oil spread from the deep ocean to the surface and nearshore 
environment, from Texas to Florida. The oil came into contact with and 
injured natural resources as diverse as deep-sea coral, fish and 
shellfish, productive wetland habitats, sandy beaches, birds, 
endangered sea turtles, and protected marine life. The oil spill 
prevented people from fishing, going to the beach, and enjoying their 
typical recreational activities along the Gulf. Extensive response 
actions, including, use of dispersants, cleanup activities, and actions 
to try to prevent the oil from reaching sensitive resources, were 
undertaken to try to reduce harm to people and the environment. 
However, many of these response actions had collateral impacts on the 
environment. The oil and other substances released from the well in 
combination with the extensive response actions together make up the 
Deepwater Horizon incident.
    The Trustees are conducting the natural resource damage assessment 
for the Deepwater Horizon incident under the Oil Pollution Act 1990 
(OPA; 33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.). Pursuant to OPA, Federal and State 
agencies act as trustees on behalf of the public to assess natural 
resource injuries and losses and to determine the actions 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, 
including the loss of use of those resources and the loss of services 
they provide from the time of injury until the time of restoration to 
baseline (the resource quality and conditions that would exist if the 
spill had not occurred) is complete.
    The Trustees \1\ are as follows:
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    \1\ Although a trustee under OPA by virtue of the proximity of 
its facilities to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the U.S. 
Department of Defense (DOD) is not a member of the Trustee Council 
and did not participate in development of this Draft PDARP/PEIS.
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     National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on 
behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce;
     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;
     U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA);
     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 February 17, 2011, the Trustees initiated a 90-day formal 
scoping and public comment period for this Draft PDARP/PEIS (76 FR 
9327) through a Notice of Intent (NOI) to Begin Restoration Scoping and 
Prepare a Gulf Spill Restoration Planning PEIS. The Trustees conducted 
the scoping in accordance with OPA (15 CFR 990.14(d)), NEPA (40 CFR 
1501.7), and State authorities. That NOI requested public input to 
identify and evaluate a range of restoration types that could be used 
to fully compensate the public for the environmental and recreational 
use damages caused by the spill, as well as develop procedures to 
select and implement restoration projects that will compensate the 
public for the natural resource damages caused by the spill. As part of 
the scoping process, the Trustees hosted public meetings across all the 
Gulf States during Spring 2011.

Overview of the Draft PDARP/PEIS

    The Draft PDARP/PEIS is being released in accordance with the OPA, 
the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) regulations found in the 
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 15 CFR part 990, and the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).
    In the Draft PDARP/PEIS, the Deepwater Horizon Trustees present to 
the public their findings on the extensive injuries to multiple 
habitats, biological species, ecological functions, and geographic 
regions across the northern Gulf of Mexico that occurred as a result of 
the Deepwater Horizon incident, as well as their programmatic plan for 
restoring those resources and the services they provide. The Draft 
PDARP/PEIS proposes four programmatic alternatives evaluated in 
accordance with OPA and NEPA. The Deepwater Horizon Trustees decided to 
fulfill NEPA requirements by conducting a PEIS that evaluates broad (as 
opposed to project-specific) restoration alternatives. As the Draft 
PDARP/PEIS shows, the injuries caused by the Deepwater Horizon incident 
cannot be fully described at the level of a single species, a single 
habitat type, or a single region. Rather, the injuries affected such a 
wide array of linked resources over such an enormous area that the 
effects of the Deepwater Horizon incident constitute an ecosystem-level 
injury. Consequently, the Trustees' preferred alternative for a 
restoration plan employs a comprehensive, integrated ecosystem approach 
to best address these ecosystem-level injuries. The Trustees'

[[Page 60128]]

evaluation determines this alternative is best, among several other 
alternatives, at compensating the public for the losses to natural 
resources and services caused by the Deepwater Horizon incident.
    The four alternatives under the Draft PDARP/PEIS are as follows:
     Alternative A (Preferred Alternative): Comprehensive 
Integrated Ecosystem Restoration Plan based on the programmatic Trustee 
goals;
     Alternative B: Resource-Specific Restoration Plan based on 
the programmatic Trustee goals;
     Alternative C: Continued Injury Assessment and Defer 
Comprehensive Restoration Plan; and
     Alternative D: No Action/Natural Recovery.
    The Trustees have jointly examined and assessed the extent of 
injury and the restoration alternatives. In the Draft PDARP/PEIS, the 
Trustees present to the public their findings on the extensive injuries 
to multiple habitats, biological species, ecological functions, and 
geographic regions across the northern Gulf of Mexico that occurred as 
a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident, as well as the programmatic 
plan for restoring those resources. In particular, they considered 
restoration types and approaches to restore, replace, rehabilitate, or 
acquire the equivalent of the injured natural resources and services. 
The Trustees believe that the preferred alternative in this Draft 
PDARP/PEIS is most appropriate for addressing the injuries to natural 
resources.
    The Trustees' proposed decision is to select a comprehensive 
restoration plan to guide and direct subsequent restoration planning 
and implementation during the coming decades. The Draft PDARP/PEIS is 
programmatic; it describes the framework by which subsequent project 
specific restoration plans will be identified and developed, and sets 
forth the types of projects the Trustees will consider in each of 
several described restoration areas. The subsequent restoration plans 
would identify, evaluate, and select specific restoration projects for 
implementation that are consistent with the restoration framework laid 
out by the PDARP/PEIS. The Trustees are considering this programmatic 
restoration planning decision in light of the proposed settlement among 
BP, the United States and the States of Louisiana, Mississippi, 
Alabama, Florida, and Texas to resolve BP's liability for natural 
resource damages associated with the Deepwater Horizon incident. Under 
this proposed settlement, BP would pay a total of $8.1 billion for 
restoration to address natural resource injuries (this includes $1 
billion already committed for early restoration), plus up to an 
additional $700 million to respond to natural resource damages unknown 
at the time of the settlement and/or to provide for adaptive 
management. As noted below, the proposed Consent Decree for the 
proposed settlement is the subject of a separate public notice and 
comment process.

Next Steps

    The public is encouraged to review and comment on the Draft PDARP/
PEIS. As described above, public meetings are scheduled to facilitate 
the public review and comment process. After the close of the public 
comment period, the Trustees will consider and address the comments 
received before issuing a Final PDARP/PEIS. A summary of comments 
received and the Trustees' responses will be included in the final 
document. After issuing the Final PDARP/PEIS, the Trustees will prepare 
a Record of Decision that formally selects an alternative.
    The public is also encouraged to review and comment on the proposed 
Consent Decree through a separate process managed by the Department of 
Justice. A link for the proposed Consent Decree and directions for 
comment to the Department of Justice is available at 
www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.

                         Public Meeting Schedule
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                                   Time (local
             Date                     times)              Location
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Mon., Oct. 19, 2015...........  5 p.m. Open House  Courtyard by
                                6 p.m. Public       Marriott--Houma,
                                 Meeting.           Versailles Parlour,
                                                    142 Liberty
                                                    Boulevard, Houma, LA
                                                    70360.
Tues., Oct. 20, 2015..........  5 p.m. Open House  University of
                                6 p.m. Public       Southern
                                 Meeting.           Mississippi, Long
                                                    Beach FEC
                                                    Auditorium, 730 East
                                                    Beach Boulevard,
                                                    Long Beach, MS
                                                    39560.
Thurs., Oct. 22, 2015.........  5 p.m. Open House  Hilton Garden Inn,
                                6 p.m. Public       New Orleans
                                 Meeting.           Convention Center,
                                                    Garden Ballroom,
                                                    10001 South Peters
                                                    Street, New Orleans,
                                                    LA 70130.
Mon., Oct. 26, 2015...........  6 p.m. Open House  The Battle House,
                                7 p.m. Public       Renaissance Mobile
                                 Meeting.           Hotel & Spa,
                                                    Moonlight Ballroom
                                                    A, 26 North Royal
                                                    Street, Mobile, AL
                                                    36602.
Tues., Oct. 27, 2015..........  6 p.m. Open House  Pensacola Bay Center,
                                7 p.m. Public       201 E Gregory
                                 Meeting.           Street, Pensacola,
                                                    FL 32502.
Thurs., Oct. 29, 2015.........  6 p.m. Open House  Hilton St.
                                7 p.m. Public       Petersburg,
                                 Meeting.           Bayfront, Salon AB,
                                                    333 1st Street
                                                    South, St.
                                                    Petersburg, FL
                                                    33701.
Tues., Nov. 10, 2015..........  6 p.m. Open House  Hilton Galveston
                                7 p.m. Public       Island Resort,
                                 Meeting.           Crystal Ballroom,
                                                    5400 Seawall
                                                    Boulevard,
                                                    Galveston, TX 77551.
Wed., Nov. 18, 2015...........  6 p.m. Open House  DoubleTree by Hilton
                                7 p.m. Public       Hotel, Washington
                                 Meeting.           DC, Terrace
                                                    Ballroom, 1515 Rhode
                                                    Island, Avenue NW.,
                                                    Washington, DC
                                                    20005.
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Invitation to Comment

    The Trustees seek public review and comment on the Draft PDARP/
PEIS. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying 
information, may be publicly available at any time.

Administrative Record

    The documents included in the Administrative Record can be viewed 
electronically at the following location: http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon/adminrecord. The Trustees opened a publicly available 
Administrative Record for the NRDA for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 
including restoration planning activities, concurrently with 
publication of the 2011 NOI (pursuant to 15 CFR 990.45).


[[Page 60129]]


    Authority: The authority of this action is the Oil Pollution Act 
of 1990 (33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.) and the implementing NRDA 
regulations found at 15 CFR part 990.

    Dated: September 28, 2015.
Samuel D. Rauch III,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-24913 Filed 10-2-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P