BOEM Seeks Public Comment on EIS Scoping for 2017-2022 Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Plan

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has announced its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to inform the decisions that will be taken during BOEM’s preparation and implementation of its 2017–2022 offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

BOEM will hold a series of public meetings around the country on this EIS scoping, beginning with Washington, DC, on February 9, 2015; Embassy Suites, Washington DC Convention Center, 900 10th Street NW, Washington, DC; 2:00–7:00 p.m.;

Comments on this EIS scoping should be submitted to BOEM by March 30, 2015.

Click here to read BOEM’s Federal Register notice of this scoping.

BOEM Seeks Comment on Draft OCS Leasing Plan for 2017-2022

Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has authority to determine which offshore lands under U.S. control can be leased for oil and gas exploration and production. BOEM has published its “2017–2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program.”

This DPP includes eight planning areas—three in the Gulf of Mexico, two in the Atlantic, and three in Alaska—and nearly 80% of estimated undiscovered technically available oil and gas resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The DPP schedules 14 potential lease sales in those areas for the 2017–2022 period in eight program areas – 10 sales in the Gulf of Mexico, one in the Atlantic (which would cover portions of two planning areas) and three off the coast of Alaska.

U.S. Seen Limiting Oil Drilling in Arctic, May Open Atlantic

By Mark Drajem and Jim Snyder

Bloomberg Politics

The U.S. Interior Department will lay a framework as soon as Tuesday for oil exploration in the nation’s coastal waters in a five-year plan that is expected to withdraw areas off Alaska while possibly adding parts of the Atlantic.

Republican Lisa Murkowski said the head of the offshore energy office told her the agency will place areas of the energy-rich U.S. Arctic off limits. Those areas had been previously deferred from new leasing. Current leases in the Arctic, such as those held by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, won’t be affected.

NMFS Proposes Navy LOA for Virginia and North Carolina

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service NMFS has received a request from the U.S. Navy for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore training activities conducted in Virginia and North Carolina, from June 2015 through June 2020. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS requests comments on its proposal to issue regulations and a five-year Letter of Authorization to the Navy to incidentally harass marine mammals. Comments and information must be received by NMFS no later than February 19, 2015.

Click here to read more about this proposed Navy LOA.

CRE Comments on BOEM’s Seismic ICR

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed comments on the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (“BOEM”) Information Collection Request (“ICR”) for certain activities including seismic airguns. This ICR must be approved by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory affairs before the ICR can be enforced. CRE’s comments made the following and other points.

  • The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service is cooperating with BOEM indeveloping these new monitoring requirements, which both Agencies refer to as the Long Term Monitoring Plan (“LTMP”). The requested ICR 1010-0048 does not cover and would not authorize any information collections in the LTMP.

New Orleans PAM and PamGuard Course

There will be a Passive Acoustic Monitoring Course from February 9-11, 2015, in New Orleans, LA. This course provides universal PAM monitoring with kits. It provides classroom and practical boat sessions for personnel new to the offshore industry who are interested in PAM.

Modules cover:

1) Sound In Water

2) Marine Mammals

3) Anthropogenic Noise in the Sea

4) Effects of Anthropogenic Noise on Marine Mammals

5) PAM Principles & the Role of the PAM Operator

6) PAM Hardware & Operations

7) PAM Software

8) PAMGuard Workshop

9) Practical PAM Session on boat session

NMFS Announces Public Hearings for Ringed Seal Critical Habitat Designations

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has announced specific dates and locations for four public hearings in Alaska, one each in Nome, Anchorage, Kotzebue, and Barrow, on NMFS’ proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the threatened Arctic subspecies (Phoca hispida hispida) of the ringed seal (Phoca hispida) under the Endangered Species Act which was published in the Federal Register on December 9, 2014. NMFS has also announced that a hearing will be held in Bethel, AK.

The specific date and location for the hearing in Bethel, AK, will be announced in a subsequently. The dates and locations for the other four hearings are as follows:

BSEE Official Attends Arctic Council’s EPPR Working Group

​The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s David M. Moore ​recently ​traveled to Seattle, Wash., for a meeting of the Arctic Council Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (EPPR) Working Group. The EPPR Working Group addresses various aspects of prevention, preparedness, and response to environmental emergencies in the Arctic. Working Group members, which include representatives from eight member nations, share information on best practices and conduct projects to develop guidance and risk assessment methodologies, response exercises, and training specific to the Arctic.

NMFS Seeks Comment on MMPA Deterrence Provisions

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service seeks public comment on the deterrence provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. To inform development of these national guidelines, NMFS published a notice in the Federal Register on December 16, 2014 (79 FR 74710) to request input on which deterrents the public would like NMFS to evaluate and consider for approval.
The comment period ends on January 15, 2015.