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Trustees Open 60-Day Public Comment Period to Scope Phase III Early Restoration Projects for BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico


06/04/2013


public meeting in Mississippi in January 2012Fishing community representatives providing oral comments on the Phase I Early Restoration Plan for the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill at a public meeting in Mississippi in January 2012 . Six public meeting such as this are planned for this June and July as opportunities for public input to scope Phase III early restoration plans and projects. Photo credit: NOAA.

 

On June 4, 2013, the federal and State natural resource trustees opened a 60-day public comment period on scoping the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Phase III early natural resource restoration plans and projects associated with the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The natural resource trustees in this case include:  

  • State of Alabama, represented by Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Geological Survey of Alabama;
  • State of Florida, represented by Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission;
  • State of Louisiana, represented by Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office;
  • State of Mississippi, represented by Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality;
  • State of Texas, represented by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas General Land Office and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department;
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, represented by U.S. Forest Service;
  • U.S. Department of Commerce, represented by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration;
  • U.S. Department of the Interior, represented by Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and,
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill began on April 20, 2010 when the floating, mobile drilling unit Deepwater Horizon -- which was drilling an exploratory oil well 50 miles off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico for BP Exploration and Production, Inc. -- exploded, caught fire and sank. Over the next three months, an estimated 210 million gallons of crude oil was released into the Gulf. Additionally, some 771,000 gallons of chemical dispersants were applied to the spilled oil as a response action both on the ocean surface and one mile down at the wellhead.

One year after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, BP and the trustees entered into an agreement -- known as the Framework Agreement -- that called for BP to set aside $1 billion for publicly-reviewed, early natural resource restoration projects mutually agreed upon by BP and the trustees. These early restoration projects are being planned and implemented using a phased approach. In Phase I, following public review, 8 early restoration projects valued at $60 million were selected in April 2012 for implementation. In Phase II, 2 projects totaling $9 million were selected in December 2012 after public review.

The purpose of the scoping process for the PEIS for Phase III early natural resource restoration is to:

  • identify the concerns of the affected public and federal agencies, states, and Indian tribes;
  • involve the public in the decision-making process;
  • facilitate efficient early restoration planning and environmental review;
  • define the issues and alternatives that will be examined in detail; and,
  • save time by ensuring that draft documents adequately address relevant issues.

Comments on scoping the draft PEIS will be accepted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Fairhope, Alabama through Friday, August 2, 2013. Comments can be submitted online, in writing and verbally at upcoming public meetings. Six public scoping meetings -- one each in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Washington, DC -- will be held in June and July.

Following this scoping, the trustees will prepare and release a draft PEIS and Phase III Early Restoration Plan for public comment by late 2013 or early 2014.

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