BOEM Seeks Comment on Draft Environmental Assessment for Offshore Sand Survey Activities

Focus on Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Regions

08-10-2018

Path to Beach dare county NC

BOEM has published a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate potential environmental impacts related to sand survey activities that may use geophysical and geological equipment to support identification, mapping, monitoring, and research of sand resources in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) regions. BOEM invites the public to comment on the draft EA by midnight on September 10, 2018 (Eastern time).

The proposed offshore sand surveys would be conducted as part of BOEM’s Marine Minerals Program (MMP), which under the OCS Lands Act is responsible for managing minerals (primarily sand and gravel) for use in coastal resiliency and storm damage reduction projects, including beach nourishment and coastal restoration.

By surveying OCS sand resources, BOEM is in the unique position to provide compatible resources to multiple Federal and state agencies and localities to help protect infrastructure, respond to emergencies, and rebuild parkland, wildlife refuges and habitat, and other areas, which can promote the long-term sustainability of communities and ecosystems.

The EA provides an analysis to determine whether significant impacts on Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico resources could occur because of the proposed sand survey activities and specifies mitigation measures that would be implemented to avoid or minimize impacts to physical, biological or social/cultural resources.

The potential study area is from the state/federal boundary to 50 meter depths offshore from Maine to Texas, with Cape Cod Bay excluded, as well as marine protected areas, such as Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. If BOEM pursues similar sand survey activities in other regions, the agency will complete additional environmental analyses.

These sand surveys generally examine the top 20 feet of the sea floor, and do not involve the use of air guns. The technology includes sub-bottom profilers; multi-beam or interferometric swath bathymetry; side scan sonar or acoustic backscatter from multi-beam or interferometric bathymetry; magnetometers; and vibracore or grab sampling to collect sediment samples.

BOEM has prepared this EA in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 United States Code [U.S.C.] 4321 et seq.); the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations (Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1500–1508); and U.S. Department of the Interior regulations (43 CFR 46).  This NEPA process has been integrated with other planning to ensure planning and decisions reflect environmental values, avoid delays, and address potential conflicts or challenges.

The draft EA is available on the BOEM’s Marine Minerals webpage at  https://www.boem.gov/Regional-Projects/.

Stakeholders should submit comments via the following means:

  • Electronically, to Deena Hanson at: deena.hansen@boem.gov  
  • In hard copy, deliver by hand or mail, in an envelope addressed to: Deena Hansen, Office of Environmental Programs, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 760 Paseo Camarillo, Suite 102, Camarillo, CA 93010.

For more information on BOEM’s MMP, please visit our website at https://www.boem.gov/Marine-Minerals-Program/.

Tracey B. Moriarty
Office of Public Affairs
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
Tel: 703-787-1571
Mobile: 202-304-6476