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Notice

Preparation of an Environmental Assessment for Proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Lease Sale 198 in the Central Gulf of Mexico (2006)

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Minerals Management Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Preparation of an environmental assessment.

SUMMARY:

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) is issuing this notice to advise the public, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., that MMS intends to prepare an environmental assessment (EA) for proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas Lease Sale 198 in the Central Gulf of Mexico (GOM) (Lease Sale 198) scheduled for March 2006. The MMS is issuing this notice to facilitate public involvement. The preparation of this EA is an important step in the decision process for Lease Sale 198. The proposal and alternatives for Lease Sale 198 were identified by the MMS Director in January 2002 following the Call for Information and Nominations/Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and were analyzed in the Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sales: 2003-2007; Central Planning Area Sales 185, 190, 194, 198, and 201; Western Planning Area Sales 187, 192, 196, and 200—Final Environmental Impact Statement; Volumes I and II (Multisale EIS, OCS EIS/EA MMS 2002-052). This EA will reexamine the potential environmental effects of the proposed action (the offering of all available unleased acreage in the Central Planning Area (CPA)) and its alternatives (the proposed action excluding the unleased blocks near biologically sensitive topographic features; the proposed action excluding the unleased blocks within 15 miles of the Baldwin County, Alabama, coast; and no action) based on any new information regarding potential impacts and issues that were not available at the time the Multisale EIS was prepared.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. Dennis Chew, Minerals Management Service, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, MS 5410, New Orleans, Louisiana 70123-2394. You may also contact Mr. Chew by telephone at (504) 736-2793.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

In November 2002, MMS prepared a Multisale EIS that addressed nine proposed Federal actions that offer for lease areas on the GOM OCS that may contain economically recoverable oil and gas resources. Federal regulations allow for several related or similar proposals to be analyzed in one EIS (40 CFR 1502.4). Since each proposed lease sale and its projected activities are very similar each year for each planning area, a single EIS was prepared for the nine CPA and Western Planning Area (WPA) lease sales scheduled in the OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2002-2007 (5-Year Program, OCS EIS/EA MMS 2002-006). Under the 5-Year Program, five annual areawide lease sales are scheduled for the CPA (Lease Sales 185, 190, 194, 198, and 201) and five annual areawide lease sales are scheduled for the WPA (Lease Sales 184, 187, 192, 196, and 200). Lease Sale 184 was not addressed in the Multisale EIS; a separate EA was prepared for that proposal. The Multisale EIS addressed CPA Lease Sales 185, 190, 194, 198, and 201 scheduled for 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively, and WPA Lease Sales 187, 192, 196, and 200 scheduled for 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, respectively. Although the Multisale EIS addresses nine proposed lease sales, at the completion of the EIS process, decisions were made only for proposed CPA Lease Sale 185 and proposed WPA Lease Sale 187. In the year prior to each subsequent proposed lease sale, an additional NEPA review (an EA) will be conducted to address any new information relevant to that proposed action. After completion of the EA, MMS will determine whether to prepare a Finding of No New Significant Impact (FONNSI) or a Supplemental EIS. The MMS will then prepare and send Consistency Determinations (CD's) to the affected States to determine whether the lease sale is consistent with their federally-approved State coastal zone management programs. Finally, MMS will solicit comments via the Proposed Notice of Sale (PNOS) from the governors of the affected States on the size, timing, and location of the lease sale. The tentative schedule for the prelease decision process for Lease Sale 198 is as follows: EA/FONNSI or Supplemental EIS decision, October 2005; CD's sent to affected States, October 2005; PNOS sent to governors of the affected States, October 2005; Final Notice of Sale published in the Federal Register, February 2006; and Lease Sale 198, March 2006. Public Comments: Interested parties are requested to send within 30 days of this Notice's publication comments regarding any new information or issues that should be addressed in the EA. Start Printed Page 32652Comments may be submitted in one of the following three ways:

1. Electronically using MMS's new Public Connect on-line commenting system at https://ocsconnect.mms.gov. This is the preferred method for commenting. From the Public Connect “Welcome” screen, search for “CPA Lease Sale 198 EA” or select it from the “Projects Open for Comment” menu.

2. In written form enclosed in an envelope labeled “Comments on CPA Lease Sale 198 EA” and mailed (or hand carried) to the Regional Supervisor, Leasing and Environment (MS 5410), Minerals Management Service, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, New Orleans, Louisiana 70123-2394.

3. Electronically to the MMS e-mail address: environment@mms.gov.

To obtain single copies of the Multisale EIS, you may contact the Minerals Management Service, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, Attention: Public Information Office (MS 5034), 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, Room 114, New Orleans, Louisiana 70123-2394 (1-800-200-GULF). You may also view the Multisale EIS or check the list of libraries that have copies of the Multisale EIS on the MMS Web site at http://www.gomr.mms.gov.

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Dated: May 5, 2005.

Chris C. Oynes,

Regional Director, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region.

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[FR Doc. 05-11064 Filed 6-2-05; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-MR-P