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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Programmatic EIS?
A Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Programmatic EIS) is a document that reports the potential environmental impacts of an action with a broad geographic scope, such as oil and gas leasing in Outer Continental Shelf waters. BOEM uses the Programmatic EIS process to analyze the most important environmental issues for the oil and gas leasing Program; how environmental impacts can be effectively avoided or managed; and what other reasonable alternatives to the proposed action are available. BOEM determined the key issues for analysis through a process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) called “Scoping,” prepared the impacts analysis in the Draft Programmatic EIS for public review and comments, and incorporated those public comments into the Final Programmatic EIS.

What was done with all the public comments?
Each comment that was submitted was reviewed by BOEM and systematically categorized for appropriate distribution to the corresponding subject matter expert(s) for formulation of responses and possible change to the Programmatic EIS. Responses were drafted to all substantive comments (these appear in Volume II of the Final Programmatic EIS) and BOEM revised the Final Programmatic EIS accordingly, if warranted.

How will the information included in the Programmatic EIS affect the final decision about where oil and gas leasing will take place?
Only those areas and options that the Secretary of the Interior decided were appropriate to include in the Proposed Program decision were analyzed in the associated Final Programmatic EIS. The Final Programmatic EIS considers potential geographic exclusions and mitigation measures, and the final decision on the Program can adopt any exclusions or restrictions that the Secretary considers appropriate for environmental protection. Those exclusions or restrictions not chosen at the program stage could be considered at later, more focused stages in the leasing process, including the lease sale and plan review stages.

What happens now that the Final Programmatic EIS has been made available to the public?
A notice of availability (NOA) has been published in the Federal Register. Publication of the NOA marks the start of a 30-day minimum waiting period that must pass before a final decision on the selected alternative can be made by the Secretary.

Will the public have another chance to provide comments on the Final Programmatic EIS before the decision is final?
Comments from the public were solicited during Scoping in 2015 and again on the Draft Programmatic EIS. The comment period for the Draft Programmatic EIS ended in May 2016.

What is a Record of Decision (ROD)?
The ROD is the final step in the NEPA process for an environmental impact statement. A ROD is a concise public document that records a Federal agency’s decision concerning a proposed action for which the agency has prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (40 CFR 1505.2).

After the decision has been made, what does that mean for stakeholders?
If the Proposed Final Program is approved, any selected lease sales are available to be a part of the 2017-2022 schedule of lease sales. Additional NEPA reviews will be conducted for each lease sale and will include further opportunity for public involvement: