National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce.
Notice of availability; request for comments.
In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and a Consent Decree with BP Exploration & Production Inc. (BP),
the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) Federal natural resource trustee agencies for the Regionwide Trustee Implementation Group (Regionwide TIG) have prepared a Draft Restoration Plan #1/Environmental Assessment: Birds, Marine Mammals, Oysters, and Sea Turtles (Draft RP/EA). The Draft RP/EA describes and proposes restoration project alternatives considered by the Regionwide TIG to partially restore natural resources and ecological services injured or lost as a result of the DWH oil spill. The Regionwide TIG evaluated these alternatives under criteria set forth in the OPA natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) regulations. In accordance with NEPA the environmental consequences of the restoration alternatives are evaluated in the integrated Environmental Assessment to which the Regionwide TIG Federal Trustees are cooperating agencies. The purpose of this notice is to inform the public of the availability of the Draft RP/EA and to seek public comments on the document.
The Regionwide TIG will consider public comments received on or before May 6, 2021.
Virtual Public Meetings: Due to continuing Covid-19 limitations on gatherings of groups, the Regionwide TIG will hold two virtual open house and public meetings to facilitate public review and comment on the Draft RP/EA.
1. April 15, 2021, 2 p.m. CDT
2. April 15, 2021, 6 p.m. CDT
Members of the public can access the open house and webinars at:
https://regionwidetig.eventbrite.com/. After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email with instructions for joining the open house and webinar.
Obtaining Documents: You may access the Draft RP/EA from the “News” section of the Regionwide TIG website at: http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/restoration-areas/regionwide.
Submitting Comments: You may submit comments on the Draft RP/EA by one of the following methods:
Via the Web: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/RWTIGRP1.
Via U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 29649, Atlanta, GA 30345. Please note that mailed comments must be postmarked on or before the comment deadline of 45 days following publication of this notice to be considered.
During the virtual public meetings: Comments may be provided during the webinar. Webinar information is provided below in SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.
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.
Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—Jamie Schubert, NOAA Restoration Center, (310) 427-8711, email@example.com.
End Further Info
Start Supplemental Information
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) mobile drilling unit exploded, causing a massive release of oil from the BP Exploration and Production Inc. (BP) Macondo well. The explosion and oil spill led to loss of life and extensive natural resource injuries. Oil spread from the deep ocean to surface and nearshore environments across the Gulf of Mexico, from Texas to Florida. Extensive response actions were undertaken to reduce harm to people and the environment. However, Start Printed Page 15200many of these response actions had collateral impacts on the environment and on natural resource services.
The DWH Federal and State natural resource trustees (DWH Trustees) conducted the natural resource damage assessment for the DWH oil spill under 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. 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, including the loss of use and services from those resources from the time of injury until the time of restoration to baseline (the resource quality and conditions that would exist if the spill had not occurred) is complete.
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 (CPRA), 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.
The DWH Trustees reached and finalized a settlement of their natural resource damage claims with BP in an April 4, 2016, Consent Decree approved by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Pursuant to that Consent Decree, restoration projects in the Regionwide Restoration Area are selected and implemented by the Regionwide TIG. The Regionwide TIG is composed of the Federal and State Trustees listed above.
On September 24, 2019, the Regionwide TIG posted a public notice at http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov requesting new or revised natural resource restoration project ideas for the Regionwide Restoration Area. The notice stated that the Regionwide TIG was seeking project ideas for the following Restoration Types: (1) Birds, (2) Marine Mammals, (3) Oysters; and (4) Sea Turtles. On July 1, 2020 the Regionwide TIG announced that it had initiated drafting of its first post settlement draft restoration plan including restoration projects for Birds, Marine Mammals, Oysters and Sea Turtles.
Overview of the Regionwide TIG Draft RP/EA
The Draft RP/EA is being released in accordance with OPA NRDA regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 15 CFR part 990, NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Consent Decree, and the Final Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan/Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. In the Draft RP/EA, the Regionwide TIG analyzes 15 alternatives and proposes eleven preferred alternatives for: Birds, Marine Mammals, Oysters, and Sea Turtles restoration types. The alternatives analyzed include the following:
- Alternative 1: Reducing Marine Debris Impacts on Birds and Sea Turtles (joint project with Sea Turtles Restoration Type)—Preferred, $3,520,000.
- Alternative 2: Conservation and Enhancement of Nesting and Foraging Habitat for Birds—Preferred, $22,500,000.
○ Component 1: Chandeleur Islands, LA, $8,000,000.
○ Component 2: Pilot Town/Little Dauphin Island, AL, $6,500,000.
○ Component 3: San Antonio Bay Bird Island, TX $2,500,00.
○ Component 4: Matagorda Bay Bird Island (Chester Island), TX, $2,500,000.
○ Component 5: Round Island, MS, $3,000,000.
- Alternative 3: Bird Nesting and Foraging Area Stewardship—Preferred, $8,510,750.
- Alternative 4: Stewardship and Habitat Creation through Beneficial Use—Non-preferred, $6,500,000.
○ Component 1: Walker Island, AL, $4,000,000.
○ Component 2: Matagorda Bay Bird Island (Chester Island), TX, $2,500,000.
- Alternative 1: Voluntary Modifications to Commercial Shrimp Lazy Lines to Reduce Dolphin Entanglements—Preferred, $3,179,088.
- Alternative 2: Reducing Impacts to Dolphins from Hook-and-Line Gear and Provisioning through Fishery Surveys, Social Science, and Collaboration—Preferred, $1,700,000.
- Alternative 3: Enhance Marine Mammal Stranding Network Diagnostic Capabilities and Consistency across the Gulf of Mexico—Preferred, $2,300,000.
- Alternative 4: Enhance Capacity, Diagnostic Capability, and Consistency of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network in the Gulf of Mexico—Non-preferred, $7,887,000.
- Alternative 1: Improving Resilience for Oysters by Linking Brood Reefs and Sink Reefs (Large-scale)—Preferred, $35,819,974 (component cost breakdown is not yet defined).
○ Component 1: East Galveston Bay, TX.
○ Component 2: Biloxi Marsh, LA.
○ Component 3: Heron Bay, MS.
○ Component 4: Mid-lower Mobile Bay, AL.
○ Component 5: Suwanee Sound, FL.
- Alternative 2: Improving Resilience for Oysters by Linking Brood Reefs and Sink Reefs (Small-scale), Non-preferred, $22,300,000 (component cost breakdown is not yet defined).
○ Component 1: East Galveston Bay, TX.
○ Component 2: Biloxi Marsh, LA.
○ Component 3: Heron Bay, MS.
○ Component 4: Mid-lower Mobile Bay, AL.
○ Component 5: Suwanee Sound, FL.
- Alternative 1: Pilot Implementation of Automatic Identification System in the GOM Inshore Shrimp Fishery to Inform Efforts to Reduce Sea Turtle Bycatch—Preferred, $2,231,124.
- Alternative 2: Restore and Enhance Sea Turtle Nest Productivity—Preferred, $7,655,000.
- Alternative 3: Guiding Restoration Success for Nesting Females and Hatchlings in the Northern Gulf of Mexico—Non-preferred, $4,446,000.
- Alternative 4: Reducing Sea Turtle Bycatch at Recreational Fishing Sites, Preferred, $3,649,360.
- Alternative 5: Reducing Marine Debris Impacts on Birds and Sea Turtles (joint project with Birds Restoration Types)—Preferred, $3,520,000.
- Alternative 6: Regionwide Enhancements to the Sea Turtle Start Printed Page 15201Stranding and Salvage Network and Enhanced Rehabilitation—Preferred, $5,050,000.
○ Component 1: Enhancing Response, Coordination, and Preparedness in the Gulf of Mexico, $2,050,000.
○ Component 2: Texas Rehabilitation Facility, $3,000,000.
The Regionwide TIG also analyzes a No Action alternative. One or more alternatives may be selected for implementation by the Regionwide TIG in the Final RP/EA or in future restoration plans.
The Regionwide TIG has examined the injuries assessed by the DWH Trustees and evaluated restoration alternatives to address the injuries. In the Draft RP/EA, the Regionwide TIG presents to the public its draft plan for providing partial compensation to the public for injured natural resources and ecological services in the Regionwide Restoration Area. The proposed alternatives are intended to continue the process of using DWH restoration funding to restore natural resources injured or lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The total estimated cost of the projects proposed as preferred is approximately $99.6 million. Additional restoration planning for the Regionwide Restoration Area will continue.
The public is encouraged to review and comment on the Draft RP/EA. Virtual public meetings are scheduled to facilitate the public review and comment process. Each virtual meeting will include an informal open house period to accommodate general questions from the public in topic areas followed by a formal presentation of the Draft RP/EA. Following the presentation, public comment will be taken through the virtual meeting platform.
Presentation slides, project fact sheets, and a recording of the webinar will be posted on the Regionwide TIG website. The public may register for the virtual public meetings at the link below.
After the public comment period ends, the Regionwide TIG will consider and address the comments received before issuing a Final RP/EA. A summary of comments received and the Regionwide TIG's responses and any revisions to the document, as appropriate, will be included in the final document.
Additional Access to Materials
You may request a CD of the Draft RP/EA (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT above). Copies of the Draft RP/EA are also available for review during the public comment period at the following locations:
|Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory, Admin Building||101 Bienville Blvd||Dauphin Island||AL||36528|
|Thomas B. Norton Public Library||221 W. 19th Ave||Gulf Shores||AL||36542|
|Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State Lands Division, Coastal Section Office||31115 Five Rivers Blvd||Spanish Fort||AL||36527|
|Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve||11300 U.S. Hwy. 98||Fairhope||AL||36532|
|Mobile Public Library, West Regional Library||5555 Grelot Rd||Mobile||AL||36606|
|Franklin County Public Library||160 Hickory Dip||Eastpoint||FL||32328|
|Okaloosa County Library||185 Miracle Strip Pkwy. SE||Ft. Walton||FL||32548|
|Panama City Beach Public Library||125000 Hutchison Blvd||Panama City Beach||FL||32407|
|Southwest Branch Library||12248 Gulf Beach Hwy||Pensacola||FL||32507|
|Wakulla County Library||4330 Crawfordville Hwy||Crawfordville||FL||32327|
|Walton County Library, Coastal Branch||437 Greenway Trail||Santa Rosa Beach||FL||32459|
|Santa Rosa County Clerk of Court, County Courthouse||6865 Caroline St||Milton||FL||32570|
|Bay County Public Library||898 W. 11th St||Panama City||FL||32401|
|Gulf County Public Library||110 Library Dr||Port St. Joe||FL||32456|
|Jefferson R.J. Bailar Public Library||375 S Water St||Monticello||FL||32344|
|Taylor County Public Library||403 N. Washington St||Perry||FL||32347|
|Dixie County Public Library||16328 SE U.S. Hwy. 19||Cross City||FL||32628|
|Levy County Public Library||7871 NE 90th St||Bronson||FL||32621|
|Homosassa Public Library||4100 S. Grandmarch Ave||Homosassa||FL||34446|
|Land O'Lakes Branch Library||2818 Collier Pkwy||Land O' Lakes||FL||34639|
|Pinellas Public Library||1330 Cleveland St||Clearwater||FL||33755|
|Temple Terrace Public Library||202 Bullard Pkwy||Temple Terrace||FL||33617|
|South Manatee Branch Library||6081 26th St||West Bradenton||FL||34207|
|Jacaranda Public Library||4143 Woodmere Park Blvd||Venice||FL||34293|
|Mid County Regional Library||2050 Forrest Nelson Blvd||Port Charlotte||FL||33952|
|Riverdale Branch Library||2421 Buckingham Rd||Fort Myers||FL||33905|
|St. Tammany Parish Library||310 W. 21st Ave||Covington||LA||70433|
|Terrebonne Parish Library||151 Library Dr||Houma||LA||70360|
|New Orleans Public Library, Louisiana Division||219 Loyola Ave||New Orleans||LA||70112|
|East Baton Rouge Parish Library||7711 Goodwood Blvd||Baton Rouge||LA||70806|
|Jefferson Parish Library, East Bank Regional Library||4747 W. Napoleon Ave||Metairie||LA||70001|
|Jefferson Parish Library, West Bank Regional Library||2751 Manhattan Blvd||Harvey||LA||70058|
|Plaquemines Parish Library||8442 Hwy. 23||Belle Chase||LA||70037|
|St. Bernard Parish Library||2600 Palmisano Blvd||Chalmette||LA||70043|
|St. Martin Parish Library||201 Porter St||Martinville||LA||70582|
|Alex P. Allain Library||206 Iberia St||Franklin||LA||70538|
|Vermillion Parish Library||405 E. St. Victor St||Abbeville||LA||70510|
|Lafourche Parish Public Library (formerly Martha Sowell Utley Memorial Library)||314 St. Mary St||Thibodaux||LA||70301|
|South Lafourche Public Library||16241 E. Main St||Cut Off||LA||70345|
|Calcasieu Parish Public Library Central Branch||301 W. Claude St||Lake Charles||LA||70605|
|Iberia Parish Library||445 E. Main St||New Iberia||LA||70560|
|Mark Shirley, Louisiana State University AgCenter||1105 W. Port St||Abbeville||LA||70510|
|Sandy Ha Nguyen, Coastal Communities Consulting||925 Behrman Hwy., Suite 15||Gretna||LA||70056|
|Start Printed Page 15202|
|Biloxi Public Library, Local History and Genealogy Department||580 Howard Ave||Biloxi||MS||39530|
|West Biloxi Public Library||2047 Pass Rd||Biloxi||MS||39531|
|Waveland Public Library||333 Coleman Ave||Waveland||MS||39576|
|Vancleave Public Library||12604 Hwy. 57||Vancleave||MS||39565|
|Hancock County Library System||312 Hwy. 90||Bay St. Louis||MS||39520|
|Gulfport Harrison County Library||1708 25th Ave||Gulfport||MS||39501|
|Pass Christian Public Library||111 Hiern Ave||Pass Christian||MS||39571|
|Orange Grove Branch Library||12135 Old Hwy. 49||Gulfport||MS||39503|
|Kathleen McIlwain Public Library||2100 Library Ln||Gautier||MS||39553|
|Pascagoula Public Library||3214 Pascagoula St||Pascagoula||MS||39567|
|Ina Thompson Moss Point Library (formerly Moss Point Library)||4119 Bellview||Moss Point||MS||39563|
|Ocean Springs Municipal Library||525 Dewey Ave||Ocean Springs||MS||39564|
|Kiln Public Library||17065 Hwy. 603||Kiln||MS||39556|
|Margaret Sherry Memorial Library||2141 Popps Ferry Rd||Biloxi||MS||39532|
|East Central Public Library||21801 Slider Rd||Moss Point||MS||39555|
|Jerry Lawrence Memorial Library (formerly D'Iberville Library)||10391 AutoMall Pkwy||D'Iberville||MS||39540|
|Mercy Housing & Human Development||1135 Ford St||Gulfport||MS||39507|
|Center for Environmental and Economic Justice||336 Rodenberg Ave||Biloxi||MS||39531|
|STEPS Coalition||11975 Seaway Rd., Ste. A240||Gulfport||MS||39503|
|Gulf Islands National Seashore Visitors Center||3500 Park Rd||Ocean Springs||MS||39564|
|Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United||6421 Beatline Road||Long Beach||MS||39560|
|Jack K. Williams Library, Texas A&M University at Galveston||200 Seawolf Pkwy., Bldg. 3010||Galveston||TX||77554|
|Port Arthur Public Library||4615 9th Ave||Port Arthur||TX||77672|
|Mary and Jeff Bell Library Texas A&M||6300 Ocean Dr||Corpus Christi||TX||78412|
|Rosenberg Library||2310 Sealy St||Galveston||TX||77550|
Vietnamese translation will be available upon request for the virtual public meetings. Anyone requiring assistance or access to translation should contact Jamie Schubert at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 5, 2021. Vietnamese translated materials including the Executive Summary and project fact sheets are posted in the “News” section of the Regionwide TIG's website: http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/restoration-areas/regionwide.
The documents comprising the Administrative Record for the Draft RP/EA can be viewed electronically at http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon/adminrecord.
The authority of this action is the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.) and its implementing Oil Pollution Act 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.).
End Supplemental Information
Dated: March 16, 2021.
Carrie Diane Robinson,
Director, Office of Habitat Conservation, National Marine Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2021-05716 Filed 3-19-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P