BOEM Completes Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Proposed Eastern Planning Area Lease Sales

Public Hearings Scheduled

03-01-2013 NEW ORLEANS

Contact: John Filostrat

john.filostrat@boem.gov

(504) 731-7815

As part of President Obama's all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has completed a draft environmental impact statement for two proposed oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico's Eastern Planning Area   and is seeking public comment on the document. Lease Sales 225 and 226, scheduled for 2014 and 2016, are part of the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2012-2017 (Five Year Program).  The Five Year Program makes all areas with the highest-known resource potential available for oil and gas leasing in order to further reduce America's dependence on foreign oil.

"The draft environmental impact statement evaluates baseline conditions and potential environmental effects of oil and natural gas leasing, exploration, development and production in the Eastern Planning Area, and updates information already published," said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. "It is an important part of the decision-making process, and I strongly encourage the public to provide input on this document."

Domestic oil and gas production has grown each year the President has been in office, with domestic oil production currently higher than any time in nearly a decade and natural gas production at its highest level ever. Foreign oil imports now account for less than 50 percent of the oil consumed in America - the lowest level since 1995. In fiscal year 2012, Interior paid out $12.15 billion in revenue generated from energy production on public lands and offshore areas - a $1 billion increase over the previous year.

The Five Year Program schedules twelve potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico.

For the Western and Central Planning Areas, the Program schedules annual area wide sales of all available, unleased acreage, as has been the typical practice in these areas. Additionally, since a portion of the Eastern Planning Area (EPA) was made available for leasing under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, Lease Sales 225 and 226 are scheduled there. The remainder of the Eastern Planning Area is under Congressional moratorium.

The environmental impact statement is available for review online at http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/public-inspection/index.html. BOEM will begin accepting comments on the environmental impact statement following the publication date of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.

BOEM will hold public hearings to solicit comments on the environmental impact statementfrom interested citizens and organizations. Comments will be used to prepare the final environmental impact statement for these proposed Eastern Planning Area oil and gas lease sales.

The public hearings will be held at the following locations: 

  • Tallahassee, Florida:  March 26, 2013, Hilton Garden Inn Tallahassee Central, 1330 Blairstone Road, Tallahassee, Florida  32301; one meeting beginning at 1:00 p.m. EDT;
  • Panama City Beach, Florida:  March 27, 2013, Wyndham Bay Point Resort, 4114 Jan Cooley Drive, Panama City Beach, Florida  32408; two meetings, the first beginning at 1:00 p.m. CDT and the second beginning at 6:00 p.m. CDT;
  • Mobile, Alabama:  March 28, 2013, Five Rivers-Alabama's Delta Resource Center, 30945 Five Rivers Boulevard, Spanish Fort, Alabama  36527; one meeting beginning at 1:00 p.m. CDT;
  • Gulfport, Mississippi:  March 29, 2013, Courtyard by Marriott Gulfport Beachfront MS Hotel, 1600 East Beach Boulevard, Gulfport, Mississippi  39501; one meeting beginning at 1:00 p.m. CDT; and
  • New Orleans, Louisiana:  April 1, 2013, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, New Orleans, Louisiana  70123, beginning at 1:00 p.m. CDT.

The comment period will be open for 45 days following the publication of the Notice of Availability of the Draft EPA 225/226 EIS in the Federal Register.

Comments may be submitted online at boemegomeis@BOEM.gov.  

Written comments should be submitted in an envelope labeled "Comments on the EPA 225/226 Draft EIS" by mail (or hand carried) to Mr. Gary D. Goeke, Chief, Regional Assessment Section, Office of Environment (GM 623E), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, New Orleans, Louisiana  70123-2394.

Comments may also be submitted through the regulations.gov web portal.  Navigate to http://www.regulations.gov. Use "Oil and Gas Lease Sales: Gulf of Mexico, Outer Continental Shelf; Eastern Planning Area Lease Sales 225 and 226" as the search term. 

To download or view the EPA 225/226 Draft EIS, visit the following link at BOEM's websiteat http://www.boem.gov/nepaprocess/.  For additional information, go to www.boem.gov/gom-sales/ on the BOEM website.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of offshore conventional and renewable energy resources.