[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 33 (Thursday, February 17, 2011)]
[Pages 9327-9328]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-3634]



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XA222

Gulf Spill Restoration Planning; Notice of Intent To Begin 
Restoration Scoping and Prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact 

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of intent to begin restoration scoping and prepare a 
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS).


SUMMARY: The purpose of the Gulf Spill Restoration Planning PEIS is to 
identify restoration types and establish a programmatic framework and 
procedures that will enable the Trustees to expedite the selection and 
implementation of restoration projects to compensate the public and the 
environment for loss of natural resources and services from the 
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that began on April 20, 2010, Mississippi 
Canyon Block 252 (``the Oil Spill''). The Trustees will prepare a PEIS 
that will evaluate a range of restoration types that could be used to 
compensate the public for the environmental and human use damages 
caused by the Oil Spill. The Trustees seek public involvement in the 
scoping process and development of the PEIS. This notice explains the 
scoping process the Trustees will use to gather input from the public. 
Comments on what the Trustees should consider in the PEIS may be 
submitted in written form or verbally at any of the public scoping 
meetings; or may be submitted in written or electronic form at any 
other time during the scoping process.

DATES: Public comments must be received by May 18, 2011. Preliminary 
public scoping meeting locations are being scheduled for:
     Pensacola, FL
     Belle Chasse, LA
     Grand Isle, LA
     Port Arthur, TX
     Galveston, TX
     Houma, LA
     Morgan City, LA
     Gulfport, MS
     Spanish Fort, AL
     Panama City, FL
     Washington, DC
    The specific dates and times for each are to be determined and will 
be announced in the Federal Register, on the Web site, and in local 
newspapers no later than two weeks prior to each meeting.

ADDRESSES: Written scoping comments on suggested restoration types 
should be sent to NOAA Restoration Center, Attn: DWH PEIS Comments, 263 
13th Avenue South, Suite 166, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Electronic 
comments are strongly encouraged, and can also be submitted to http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov. All written scoping comments must be 
received by the close of the scoping process to be considered during 
the scoping process. The exact dates and venues of scoping meetings, as 
well as the closing date for scoping comments, will be announced in a 
public notice to be released two weeks prior to the first public 
scoping meetings to be held pursuant to this notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: NOAA--Brian Hostetter at 888.547.0174 
or by e-mail at gulfspillcomments@noaa.gov;
    DOI--Robin Renn by e-mail at Robin_Renn@fws.gov;
    AL-- Will Gunter by e-mail at William.Gunter@dcnr.alabama.gov;
    FL--Lee Edminston or Gil McRae by e-mail at 
Lee.Edmiston@dep.state.fl.us or Gil.McRae@myfwc.com;
    LA--Karolien Debusschere by e-mail at karolien.debusschere@la.gov;
    MS--Richard Harrell by e-mail at Richard_Harrell@deq.state.ms.us;
    TX--Don Pitts by e-mail at Don.Pitts@tpwd.state.tx.us.
    To be added to the Oil Spill PEIS mailing list, please visit: 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department 
of Commerce is the lead agency for the preparation of the PEIS on 
behalf of United States Department of the Interior (on behalf of the 
Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of 
Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs) (``DOI''); the 
Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the Louisiana 
Oil Spill Coordinator's Office, the Louisiana Department of 
Environmental Quality, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and 
Fisheries, and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, for the 
State of Louisiana; the Mississippi Department of Environmental 
Quality, for the State of Mississippi; the Alabama Department of 
Conservation and Natural Resources and the Geological Survey of 
Alabama, for the State of Alabama; the Florida Department of 
Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation 
Commission for the State of Florida; and the Texas Parks and Wildlife 
Department, Texas General Land Office, and the Texas Commission on 
Environmental Quality, for the State of Texas.
    Under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), 33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq. 
Responsible Parties incur liability for the costs of cleaning up the 
oil and for the restoration of injured natural resources and their 
services. Liability for natural resource injuries caused by the Oil 
Spill can also flow from the Park System Resource Protection Act 
(PSRPA) (16 U.S.C. 19jj), the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (16 
U.S.C. 1431 et seq.), and other federal

[[Page 9328]]

and state laws. The Trustee agencies, including NOAA, are leading 
efforts to assess and restore affected resources. These resources 
include ecologically, recreationally, and commercially important 
species and their habitats in the Gulf of Mexico and along the coastal 
areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Florida, as well 
as human uses of these resources.
    Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) is the process 
established under OPA to evaluate the impacts to natural resources and 
lost human uses of those resources. Information continues to be 
collected on pre-oiled and oiled areas to assess potential impacts to 
natural resources, including: fish, shellfish, marine mammals, turtles, 
birds, and other sensitive resources and their habitats, including; 
wetlands, beaches, mudflats, bottom sediments, corals, and the water 
column. Losses of commercial and recreational human uses such as 
fishing, hunting, boating, and beach enjoyment are also being assessed.
    OPA authorizes certain federal and state agencies and Indian tribes 
to be designated as Trustees for affected natural resources. Under OPA, 
these agencies and tribes are authorized to assess natural resource 
injuries and to seek compensation from RPs, including the costs of 
performing the damage assessment. The Trustees are required to use 
recovered damages only to restore, replace or acquire the equivalent of 
injured or lost resources and the human use of those resources. Toward 
that end, the PEIS will identify types of restoration that could be 
used to compensate the public for lost resources and their services, as 
well as a framework and procedures for the selection and implementation 
of restoration projects that will compensate the public for the natural 
resource damages caused by the Oil Spill.
    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq., and the Council on Environmental Quality regulations implementing 
NEPA under 40 CFR Chapter V apply to restoration actions by federal 
trustees. The federal and state Trustees will be developing a PEIS to 
help guide restoration actions associated with the NRDA for the Oil 
Spill. The PEIS will assess the environmental, social, and economic 
attributes of the affected environment and the potential consequences 
of alternative actions to restore, rehabilitate, replace, or acquire 
the equivalent of natural resources and services potentially injured by 
the spill. A PEIS may be prepared to evaluate actions that encompass a 
large geographic scale. Tiered analyses considering particular 
restoration actions may be required in the future as specific plans for 
implementing particular alternatives are established.
    The purpose of the scoping process is to identify the concerns of 
the affected public and federal agencies, states, and Indian tribes, 
involve the public early in the decision making process, facilitate an 
efficient PEIS preparation process, define the issues and alternatives 
that will be examined in detail, and save time by ensuring that draft 
documents adequately address relevant issues. The scoping process 
reduces paperwork and delay by ensuring that important issues are 
addressed early. Following the scoping process, the Trustees will 
prepare a draft PEIS, at which time the public will be encouraged to 
comment on the document. Similar to the scoping process, public comment 
meetings will be held at that time to gather oral and written public 
input on the draft PEIS.
    In compliance with 15 CFR 990.45, the Trustees will prepare an 
Administrative Record (Record). The Record will include documents that 
the Trustees relied on during the development of the PEIS. After 
preparation, the Record will be on file at the NOAA Restoration Center 
in Silver Spring, MD, and duplicate copies will be maintained at the 
following Web site: http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/. The specific web page 
will be provided in the next public notice.
    The draft PEIS document is intended to be released for public 
comment by Fall/Winter, 2011. Specific dates and times for future 
events will be publicized when scheduled.

    Dated: February 11, 2011.
Patricia A. Montanio,
Director, Office of Habitat Conservation, National Marine Fisheries 
[FR Doc. 2011-3634 Filed 2-16-11; 8:45 am]