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Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Draft Restoration Plan #1.3 and Environmental Assessment: Rabbit Island Restoration and Shoreline Protection at Jean Lafitte Historical National Park and Preserve; Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group

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Department of the Interior.


Notice of availability; request for public comments.


In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Final Programmatic Damage Assessment Restoration Plan and Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Final PDARP/PEIS), and the Consent Decree, the Federal and State natural resource trustee agencies for the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group (LA TIG) have prepared the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group Draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment #1.3:Rabbit Island Restoration and Shoreline Protection at Jean Lafitte Historical National Park and Preserve (Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3). The Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3 proposes construction activities to help restore injured resources under two restoration types identified in the Final PDARP/PEIS:

  • Birds
  • Habitat projects on federally managed lands

The above resources were injured in the Louisiana Restoration Area as a result of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. The two projects were approved for engineering and design (E&D) in a 2017 restoration plan entitled Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group Final Restoration Plan #1: Restoration of Wetlands, Coastal, and Nearshore Habitats; Habitat Projects on Federally Managed Lands; and Birds (Phase 1 RP #1). The Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3 analyzes design alternatives for the two projects and proposes a preferred design alternative for construction of each. We invite comments on the draft Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3.


Submitting Comments: We will consider public comments on the draft Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3 received on or before December 20, 2019.

Public Webinar: The LA TIG will host a public webinar on December 2, 2019, at 4:00 p.m. Central. The public may register for the webinar at​register/​576465552592329228. After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email with instructions for joining the webinar. Instructions for commenting will be provided during the webinar. Shortly after the webinar is concluded, the presentation material will be posted on the web at​restoration-areas/​louisiana.


Obtaining Documents: You may download the draft Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3 from either of the following websites:

Alternatively, you may request a CD of the draft Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3 (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). A hard copy of the Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3 is also available for review during the public comment period at the locations listed in the following table.

St. Tammany Parish Library310 W. 21st AvenueCovington70433
Terrebonne Parish Library151 Library DriveHouma70360
New Orleans Public Library, Louisiana Division219 Loyola AvenueNew Orleans70112
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East Baton Rouge Parish Library7711 Goodwood BoulevardBaton Rouge70806
Jefferson Parish Library, East Bank Regional Library4747 W. Napoleon AvenueMetairie70001
Jefferson Parish Library, West Bank Regional Library2751 Manhattan BoulevardHarvey70058
Plaquemines Parish Library8442 Highway 23Belle Chasse70037
St. Bernard Parish Library1125 E. St. Bernard HighwayChalmette70043
St. Martin Parish Library201 Porter StreetSt. Martinville70582
Alex P. Allain Library206 Iberia StreetFranklin70538
Vermilion Parish Library405 E. St. Victor StreetAbbeville70510
Martha Sowell Utley Memorial Library314 St. Mary StreetThibodaux70301
South Lafourche Public Library16241 E. Main StreetCut Off70345
Calcasieu Parish Public Library Central Branch301 W. Claude StreetLake Charles70605
Iberia Parish Library445 E. Main StreetNew Iberia70560
Mark Shirley, LSU AgCenter1105 West Port StreetAbbeville70510

Submitting Comments: You may submit comments on the draft Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3 by one of the following methods:

  • Via the Web:​restoration-areas/​louisiana.
  • Via U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 29649, Atlanta, GA 30345. To be considered, mailed comments must be postmarked on or before the comment deadline given in DATES.
  • During the public webinar: Written comments may be provided by the public during the webinar. Webinar information is provided in DATES.
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Nanciann Regalado, via email at, via telephone at 678-296-6805, or via the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

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On April 20, 2010, the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, which was being used to drill a well for BP Exploration and Production, Inc. (BP), in the Macondo prospect (Mississippi Canyon 252-MC252), experienced a significant explosion, fire, and subsequent sinking in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in an unprecedented volume of oil and other discharges from the rig and from the wellhead on the seabed. The DWH oil spill is the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, discharging millions of barrels of oil over a period of 87 days. In addition, well over 1 million gallons of dispersants were applied to the waters of the spill area in an attempt to disperse the spilled oil. An undetermined amount of natural gas was also released into the environment as a result of the spill.

The Trustees conducted the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) for the DWH oil spill under the Oil Pollution Act 1990 (OPA; 33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.). Pursuant to OPA, Federal and State agencies act as trustees on behalf of the public to assess natural resource injuries and losses and to determine the actions required to compensate the public for those injuries and losses. The OPA further instructs the designated trustees to develop and implement a plan for the restoration, rehabilitation, replacement, or acquisition of the equivalent of the injured natural resources under their trusteeship to baseline (the resource quality and conditions that would exist if the spill had not occurred). This includes the loss of use and services provided by those resources from the time of injury until the completion of restoration.

The DWH Trustees are:

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

On April 4, 2016, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana entered a Consent Decree resolving civil claims by the Trustees against BP arising from the DWH oil spill: United States v. BPXP et al., Civ. No. 10-4536, centralized in MDL 2179, In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010 (E.D. La.) (​enrd/​deepwater-horizon). Pursuant to the Consent Decree, restoration projects in the Louisiana Restoration Area are chosen and managed by the LA TIG. The LA TIG is composed of the following Trustees: State of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Oil Spill Coordinator's Office, Departments of Environmental Quality, Wildlife and Fisheries, and Natural Resources; DOI; NOAA; EPA; and USDA.


The Final PDARP/PEIS provides for TIGs to propose phasing restoration projects across multiple restoration plans. A TIG may propose in a draft restoration plan conceptual projects to fund for an information-gathering planning phase, such as E&D (phase 1). This allows TIGs to develop information needed to fully consider a subsequent implementation phase in a later restoration plan (phase 2). In the final Phase 1 RP #1, the LA TIG selected six conceptual projects for E&D, using funds from the wetlands, coastal and nearshore habitats; birds; and habitat projects on federally managed lands restoration types, as provided for in the DWH Consent Decree. Two of those projects that were selected for E&D in the final Phase I RP #1 are the Rabbit Island Restoration project (Rabbit Island project), under the birds restoration type, and the Shoreline Protection at Jean Lafitte Historical National Park and Preserve (Jean Lafitte project) under the projects on federally managed lands restoration type. The design alternatives developed during E&D are currently at a stage where proposed construction activities may be analyzed under OPA and NEPA. Therefore, in the draft Phase Start Printed Page 616382 RP/EA #1.3, the Louisiana TIG is proposing to finalize and implement their preferred design alternatives to construct the Rabbit Island and Jean Lafitte projects.

Overview of the LA TIG Draft Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3

The draft Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3 is being released in accordance with OPA NRDA regulations found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 15 CFR part 990, NEPA and its implementing regulations found at 40 CFR parts 1500-1508, the Final PDARP/PEIS, and the Consent Decree. The Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3 provides OPA and NEPA analyses for a reasonable range of design alternatives for the Rabbit Island and Jean Lafitte projects, and identifies the LA TIG's preferred design alternatives.

The proposed Rabbit Island project would meet the goal of restoring and conserving birds by restoring 87.8 acres of the island's original 200-acre footprint for bird habitat. This would be done by raising the elevation of Rabbit Island using dredged fill material from the Calcasieu Ship Channel as the borrow source area.

The proposed Jean Lafitte project would implement a nearly continuous rock breakwater, with rock elbows protecting fish gaps along the eastern shorelines of Lake Cataouche, Lake Salvador, and Bayou Bardeaux in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Implementation is proposed in two increments, the northern and the southern portions of the project area. In the Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3, the LA TIG is proposing at this time to implement only the southern portion.

Next Steps

As described above in DATES, the Trustees will host a public webinar to facilitate the public review and comment process. After the public comment period ends, the Trustees will consider and address the comments received before issuing a final Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3.

Public Availability of Comments

Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Administrative Record

The documents comprising the Administrative Record for the Phase 2 RP/EA #1.3 can be viewed electronically at​deepwaterhorizon/​adminrecord.


The authority for this action is the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.), its implementing Natural Resource Damage Assessment regulations found at 15 CFR part 990, and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations found at 40 CFR parts 1500-1508.

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Mary Josie Blanchard,

Director of Gulf of Mexico Restoration, Department of Interior.

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[FR Doc. 2019-24644 Filed 11-12-19; 8:45 am]