The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has released the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Geological and Geophysical (G&G) Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Final PEIS). The Final PEIS satisfies a commitment made in a 2013 settlement agreement with Natural Resources Defense Council and other parties, under which BOEM continues to authorize G&G activities in the GOM.
The analysis contained in the Final PEIS shows that, subject to adequate mitigation measures, a decision from BOEM to continue authorizing G&G activities in the GOM would not result in major impacts to the environment. The Final PEIS addresses potential environmental impacts of G&G surveys (deep-penetration, high-resolution geophysical, electromagnetic, deep stratigraphic, and remote sensing) conducted in connection with BOEM's oil and gas, renewable energy, and marine minerals programs. The area evaluated in the Final PEIS includes the OCS waters of the GOM off Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. BOEM also analyzed potential effects within the state waters of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, because G&G activities in OCS waters can impact resources in state waters since sound can travel from OCS areas to state waters.
BOEM was the lead agency for the Final PEIS, with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as cooperating agencies.
The Final EIS will be used by BOEM to assess the environmental impacts associated with permitting or authorizing G&G activities on OCS waters in the GOM in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Final PEIS will also allow NMFS to comply with its obligations under NEPA in connection with the application for Incidental Take Regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that NMFS is currently evaluating for G&G activities on the GOM OCS.
The purpose of the PEIS is to evaluate the impacts of G&G activities on marine resources, such as marine mammals, benthic communities and fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf and adjacent state waters. This Final PEIS establishes a framework for BOEM to guide subsequent NEPA analyses of site-specific actions and identifies and analyzes appropriate mitigation measures to be required in future approvals for G&G activities on the GOM OCS in support of BOEM's programs. BOEM will analyze the potential impacts of future site-specific actions in subsequent NEPA evaluations (40 CFR § 1502.20), which will tier from the Final Programmatic EIS.
BOEM has conducted studies on marine mammals, including $50 million in protected species research to ensure BOEM-authorized activities do not harm marine populations.
For further information on the Final PEIS, please visit our website at http://www.boem.gov/GOM-G-G-PEIS/.
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