Interior Extends Comment Period on Proposed Arctic Drilling rules

The U.S. Department of the Interior has extended the public comment period on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking entitled, ‘‘Oil and Gas and Sulphur Operations on the Outer Continental Shelf—Requirements for Exploratory Drilling on the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf,’’ which was published in the Federal Register on February 24, 2015, (80 FR 9916). The original public comment period would have ended on April 27, 2015. The new deadline for public comments is
May 27, 2015.

Click here to read Federal Register notice extending comment period.

CRE Comments on Proposed Arctic Drilling Rules

On April 24, 2015, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed comments on the U.S. Department of Interior’s Proposed Requirements for Exploratory Drilling on the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf. The Executive Summary of CRE’s comments is set forth below (footnotes omitted):

“CRE earlier filed comments on the BOEM and BSEE Information Collection Requests (“ICRs”) for these proposed rules. CRE’s ICR comments are Document BSEE-2013-0011-0015 in this docket. CRE’s ICR comments are incorporated by reference into these comments on the proposed Arctic drilling rules themselves.

NMFS Seeks Comment on Proposed Seismic IHA for Beaufort

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has received an application from SAExploration, Inc. for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to a marine 3-dimensional ocean bottom node seismic surveys program in the state and federal waters of the Beaufort Sea, Alaska, during the open-water season of 2015. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS requests comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to SAE to incidentally take, by Level A and Level B Harassments, marine mammals during the specified activity. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than May 14, 2015.

BOEM Invites Public Comment to Inform Environmental Assessment and Analysis of Shell’s Chukchi Sea Exploration Plan

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has deemed submitted Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc.’s revised multi-year Exploration Plan and invites the public to review and comment on it. The revised EP describes Shell’s proposal to conduct exploration drilling in the shallow waters of the Chukchi Sea Outer Continental Shelf, off the northwest coast of Alaska. It is available for review here.

An EP describes all exploration activities planned by the operator for a specific lease or leases, including the timing of these activities, information concerning drilling vessels, the location of each planned well, and actions to be taken to meet important safety and environmental standards and to protect access to subsistence resources.

BOEM Publishes ROD for Chukchi Lease Sale

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has announced the availability of the Record of Decision for remanded Chukchi Sea Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Lease Sale 193, originally held on February 6, 2008. BOEM prepared the Chukchi Sea Oil and Gas Lease Sale 193 Final Second Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to address a deficiency identified by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in its opinion of January 22, 2014. The Final Second SEIS considers the potential impacts of oil and gas activities that could result from leases issued in Lease Sale 193, including the full range of likely production if oil production were to occur (80 FR 9266, Feb. 20, 2015).

NMFS Moves Forward on Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s Whale Listing

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has published its 90-day finding on a petition to list the Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) as an endangered distinct population segment under the Endangered Species Act. NMFS found that that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Accordingly, NMFS will conduct a review of the status of this species to determine if the petitioned action is warranted. INMFS must receive information and comments on this action by June 5, 2015.

Click here to read NMFS’ Federal Register notice of this action.

Petroleum Council Publishes Arctic Oil and Gas Report

The National Petroleum Council, an oil and natural gas advisory committee to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, has published its report Arctic Potential: Realizing the Promise of U.S. Arctic Oil and Gas Resources. This report explains that

Department of the Interior Affirms 2008 Chukchi Sea Lease Sale

The U.S. Department of the Interior has issued a Record of Decision affirming Chukchi Sea OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sale 193 and the remaining oil and gas leases issued in 2008 as a result of the sale. Interior’s press release states in part:

“Upon issuance of the Record of Decision, BOEM may begin formal review of a company’s exploration plan for the Chukchi Sea, which includes public engagement and additional environmental analyses. BOEM, BSEE and other Federal agencies will need to review and approve activities before any exploration activity can occur.