Contact: John Callahan
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) today announced that it will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in support of a potential oil and gas lease sale in Cook Inlet, off Alaska’s south central coast.
The Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS, which will be published in the Federal Register on Oct. 23, 2014, will open a public comment period extending through Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. During this time, BOEM will hold public scoping meetings and accept comments through www.regulations.gov. The Notice is available here.
The EIS analysis will focus on the potential effects of leasing, exploration, development and production of oil and natural gas in the proposed lease sale area, which BOEM identified in November 2013. That Area Identification reflected BOEM’s approach of using scientific information and stakeholder feedback to proactively determine, in advance of the potential lease sale, which specific areas within a planning area offer the greatest resource potential and industry interest while reducing potential conflicts with environmental and subsistence considerations.
The area identified last November for the proposed Cook Inlet sale is closer to existing infrastructure, avoids nearly the entire area designated as critical habitat for the beluga whale and the northern sea otter, completely avoids the critical habitat for the Stellar sea lion and the North Pacific right whale, and reduces effects on national parks, preserves and wildlife refuges. It also excludes much of the subsistence-use area for the Native villages of Nanwalek and Port Graham that were identified during the last lease sale process in the area.
“We look forward to receiving thoughtful, substantial input on this EIS,” said Dr. Walter Cruickshank, BOEM Acting Director. “In particular, we need to hear from residents of the communities along Cook Inlet on how the proposed leasing area is currently being used and what specific areas need extra attention. To address these issues, we will use rigorous science together with traditional knowledge and input we receive from the The Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS is an early step in the leasing process."
The Notice does not indicate a final decision to hold a lease sale has been made. Rather, information gathered via the scoping process will help BOEM prepare the EIS, which in turn will inform a final decision on whether to hold the sale.
SCHEDULE FOR SCOPING MEETINGS
Nov. 12, 7pm Seldovia (Tribal Conference Center)
Nov. 13, noon Nanwalek (Tribal Community Center)
Nov. 13, 7pm Homer (UPDATE: Homer Middle School)
Nov. 14, [UPDATE: 5pm-8pm] - Soldotna (Kenai Peninsula College)
Nov. 24, 7pm Anchorage (Loussac Library)
Currently, there are no active leases nor oil/gas exploration or development facilities in the Cook Inlet federal waters. The Department of the Interior’s 2012-2017 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program proposes one potential Cook Inlet Oil and Gas lease sale.
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.