U.S. Government announces additional steps for 5-year offshore leasing program
NEW ORLEANS - The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued a “Call for Information and Nominations” (the Call), requesting stakeholder input regarding eight planned oil and gas lease sales scheduled in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico over the next five year period – an important step in implementing the new offshore oil and gas leasing program that the Department of the Interior released last week.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced last week that the Proposed Final Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 makes all areas with the highest-known resource potential available for oil and gas leasing. It schedules 15 potential lease sales for the five year period, including 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and three off the coast of Alaska.
The Call will help BOEM determine the specific configuration of eight Western and Central GOM lease sales, including terms of the sales. The Call asks interested parties for information related to the potential leasing and development of these areas, including information about geological, environmental, and biological conditions, as well as archaeological resources and socioeconomic factors and potential concerns about conflicts with other uses of these offshore resources.
“We are already implementing the next Five-Year Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program,” said BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau. “Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to promoting responsible offshore oil and gas development, and we are doing so with the early planning and consultation that helps ensure that we understand the full range of interests and concerns regarding lease sales under the Program.”
On a separate track, BOEM is also initiating the next stage of environmental and socioeconomic analysis for Western GOM Lease Sale 233 and Central GOM Lease Sale 231, proposed for 2013 and 2014, respectively, with the publication of a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. This document will build on the analyses in the Western Planning Area / Central Planning Area Multi-sale Final EIS, announced yesterday, which provides baseline analysis in support of the 10 lease sales scheduled in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico planning areas over the next five years.
BOEM is requesting that federal, state, and local government agencies, and other interested parties send comments on the scope of issues and possible alternatives to be considered as part of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for these sales.
As the Five Year Program is implemented, the public will benefit from a number of new tools that BOEM has developed to enhance transparency and promote public engagement in the leasing process. A new alternative and mitigation tracking table will allow commenters to see how and where their concerns – including issues that they raise in response to the Call and request that are being announced today – are considered, and to track the treatment of comments throughout different stages of the lease sale planning process. BOEM has also created a new interactive map that will allow commenters to view a range of geospatial data, including information regarding current activities and ongoing studies.
A map of the Call area is available via the BOEM website.