Coast Guard, DHS.
Notice of proposed rulemaking.
The Coast Guard proposes the establishment of a safety zone around a petroleum and gas production facility in Mississippi Canyon 778 of the Outer Continental Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. The facility needs to be protected from vessels operating outside the normal shipping channels and fairways, and placing a safety zone around this area would significantly reduce the threat of allisions, oil spills and releases of natural gas. This proposed rule prohibits all vessels from entering or remaining in the specified area around the facility's location except for an attending vessel, a vessel under 100 feet in length overall not engaged in towing, or a vessel authorized by the Eighth Coast Guard District Commander.
Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before June 27, 2005.
You may mail comments and related material to Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District (m), Hale Boggs Federal Bldg., 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans, LA 70130, or comments and related material may be delivered to Room 1341 at the same address between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is (504) 589-6271. Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District (m) maintains the public docket for this rulemaking. Comments and material received from the public, as well as documents indicated in this preamble as being available in the docket, will become part of this docket and will be available for inspection or copying at the location listed above during the noted time periods.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Lieutenant (LT) Kevin Lynn, Project Manager for Eighth Coast Guard District Commander, Hale Boggs Federal Bldg., 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans, LA 70130, telephone (504) 589-6271.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
Requests for Comments
We encourage you to participate in this rulemaking by submitting comments and related material. If you do so, please include your name and address, identify the docket number for this rulemaking [CGD08-05-019], indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and give the reason for each comment. Please submit all comments and related material in an unbound format, no larger than 81/2 by 11 inches, suitable for copying. If you would like to know they reached us, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or Start Printed Page 21379envelope. We will consider all comments and material received during the comment period. We may change this proposed rule in view of them.
We do not plan to hold a public meeting. However, you may submit a request for a meeting by writing to Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District (m) at the address under ADDRESSES explaining why one would be beneficial. If we determine that a public meeting would aid this rulemaking, we will hold one at a time and place announced by a later notice in the Federal Register.
Background and Purpose
The Coast Guard proposes the establishment of a safety zone around the Thunder Horse Semi-Submersible facility, a petroleum and gas production facility in the Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi Canyon 778 (MC 778), located at position 28°11′26″ N, 88°29′44″ W.
This proposed safety zone is in the deepwater area of the Gulf of Mexico. For the purposes of this regulation it is considered to be in waters of 304.8 meters (1,000 feet) or greater depth extending to the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) contiguous to the territorial sea of the United States and extending to a distance up to 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breadth of the sea is measured. Navigation in the area of the proposed safety zone consists of large commercial shipping vessels, fishing vessels, cruise ships, tugs with tows and the occasional recreational vessel. The deepwater area of the Gulf of Mexico also includes an extensive system of fairways. The fairway nearest the proposed safety zone is the South Pass (Mississippi River) Safety Fairway—South Pass to Sea Safety Fairway. Significant amounts of vessel traffic occur in or near the various fairways in the deepwater area.
British Petroleum America Inc., hereafter referred to as BP, has requested that the Coast Guard establish a safety zone in the Gulf of Mexico around the Thunder Horse Semi-Submersible facility.
The request for the safety zone was made due to the high level of shipping activity around the facility and the associated safety concerns for both the onboard personnel and the environment. Information provided by BP to the Coast Guard indicates that the location, production levels, and personnel levels on board the facility make it highly likely that any allision with the facility or its mooring system would result in a catastrophic event.
The Coast Guard has evaluated BP's information and concerns against Eighth Coast Guard District criteria developed to determine if an Outer Continental Shelf facility qualifies for a safety zone. Several factors were considered to determine the necessity of a safety zone for the Thunder Horse Semi-Submersible facility: (1) The facility is located approximately 50 nautical miles south of the “South Pass (Mississippi River) Safety Fairway—South Pass to Sea Safety Fairway”; (2) the facility will have a high daily production capacity of petroleum oil and gas per day; (3) the facility will be manned; and (4) the facility will be of the semi-submersible type.
We conclude that the risk of allision to the facility and the potential for loss of life and damage to the environment resulting from such an accident warrants the establishment of this proposed safety zone. The proposed rule would significantly reduce the threat of allisions, oil spills and natural gas releases and increase the safety of life, property, and the environment in the Gulf of Mexico. This proposed regulation is issued pursuant to 14 U.S.C. 85 and 43 U.S.C. 1333 as set out in the authority citation for 33 CFR part 147.
Discussion of Proposed Rule
The proposed safety zone would encompass the area within 500 meters (1640.4 feet) from each point on the Thunder Horse's structure outer edge. No vessel would be allowed to enter or remain in this proposed safety zone except the following: An attending vessel; a vessel under 100 feet in length overall not engaged in towing; or a vessel authorized by the Eighth Coast Guard District Commander.
This proposed rule is not a “significant regulatory action” under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of that Order. The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed it under that Order. It is not significant under the regulatory policies and procedures of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
We expect the economic impact of this proposed rule to be so minimal that a full regulatory evaluation under the regulatory policies and procedures of DHS is unnecessary. The impacts on routine navigation are expected to be minimal because the proposed safety zone will not overlap any of the safety fairways within the Gulf of Mexico.
Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), we have considered whether this proposed rule would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000.
The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Since the Thunder Horse Semi-Submersible will be located far offshore, few privately owned fishing vessels and recreational boats/yachts operate in the area and alternate routes are available for those vessels. Use of an alternate route may cause a vessel to incur a delay of 4 to 10 minutes in arriving at their destinations depending on how fast the vessel is traveling. Therefore, the Coast Guard expects the impact of this proposed rule on small entities to be minimal.
If you think that your business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction qualifies as a small entity and that this proposed rule would have a significant economic impact on it, please submit a comment (see ADDRESSES) explaining why you think it qualifies and to what degree this rule would economically affect it.
Assistance for Small Entities
Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this proposed rule so that they can better evaluate its effects on them and participate in the rulemaking. If the rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please contact LT Kevin Lynn, Project Manager for Eighth Coast Guard District Commander, Hale Boggs Federal Bldg., 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans, LA 70130, telephone (504) 589-6271.
Collection of Information
This proposed rule would call for no new collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). Start Printed Page 21380
A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132, Federalism, if it has a substantial direct effect on State or local governments and would either preempt State law or impose a substantial direct cost of compliance on them. We have analyzed this proposed rule under that Order and have determined that it does not have implications for federalism.
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act
The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) requires Federal agencies to assess the effects of their discretionary regulatory actions. In particular, the Act addresses actions that may result in the expenditure by a State, local, or tribal government, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100,000,000 or more in any one year. Though this proposed rule will not result in such expenditure, we discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere in this preamble.
Taking of Private Property
This proposed rule will not effect a taking of private property or otherwise have taking implications under Executive Order 12630, Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property Rights.
Civil Justice Reform
This proposed rule meets applicable standards in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.
Protection of Children
We have analyzed this proposed rule under Executive Order 13045, Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks. This rule is not an economically significant rule and does not create an environmental risk to health or risk to safety that may disproportionately affect children.
Indian Tribal Governments
This proposed rule does not have tribal implications under Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it would not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes.
We have analyzed this proposed rule under Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use. We have determined that it is not a “significant energy action” under that Order because it is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866 and is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy. The Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has not designated it as a significant energy action. Therefore, it does not require a Statement of Energy Effects under Executive Order 13211.
The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) (15 U.S.C. 272 note) directs agencies to use voluntary consensus standards in their regulatory activities unless the agency provides Congress, through the Office of Management and Budget, with an explanation of why using these standards would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., specifications of materials, performance, design, or operation; test methods; sampling procedures; and related management systems practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies.
This proposed rule does not use technical standards. Therefore, we did not consider the use of voluntary consensus standards.
We have analyzed this proposed rule under Commandant Instruction M16475.1D, which guides the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have concluded that there are no factors in this case that would limit the use of categorical exclusion under section 2.B.2 of the Instruction. Therefore, this rule is categorically excluded, under figure 2-1 paragraph (34)(g), of the instruction, from further environmental documentation because this rule is not expected to result in any significant environmental impact as described in NEPA.
A draft “Environmental Analysis Check List” and a draft “Categorical Exclusion Determination” are available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES. Comments on this section will be considered before we make the final decision on whether the rule should be categorically excluded from further environmental review.Start List of Subjects
List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 147
- Continental shelf
- Marine safety
- Navigation (water)
For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard proposes to amend 33 CFR part 147 as follows:Start Part
PART 147—SAFETY ZONES
1. The authority citation for part 147 continues to read as follows:
2. Add § 147.843 to read as follows:
(a) Description. Thunder Horse Semi-Submersible, Mississippi Canyon 778 (MC 778), located at position 28°11′26″ N, 88°29′44″ W. The area within 500 meters (1640.4 feet) from each point on the structure's outer edge is a safety zone. These coordinates are based upon [NAD 83].
(b) Regulation. No vessel may enter or remain in this safety zone except the following:
(1) An attending vessel;
(2) A vessel under 100 feet in length overall not engaged in towing; or
(3) A vessel authorized by the Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District.
Dated: April 7, 2005.
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District.
[FR Doc. 05-8262 Filed 4-25-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-15-P