The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) today announced that the Department of the Interior has met a U.S. District Court of Alaska deadline to file the Record of Decision (ROD) regarding a 2008 federal oil and natural gas lease sale in the Chukchi Sea offshore Alaska.
Today’s decision affirms the sale of 487 leases covering 2.8 million acres under Lease Sale 193. All of these leases are subject to a series of conditions to mitigate operational and environmental risks, including: protection of biological resources; orientation programs to familiarize personnel with environmental, social, and cultural issues; environmental requirements regarding the placement of pipelines; precautionary action to mitigate potential oil spill impacts; and measures to minimize the effects to Spectacled and Steller’s eiders. BOEM has also required specific mitigation measures for the corridor of leases closest to the coastline, including a corridor 52 miles from the shore in which no lease activity will take place, a site-specific monitoring program to assess behavioral effects on a number of marine mammals and polar bears, and conflict avoidance mechanisms to protect subsistence harvesting activities.
Lease Sale 193, held in February 2008, was contested in the District Court. In 2010, the Court remanded the sale to the Department to address specific concerns related to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis conducted prior to the sale. The then-Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement completed a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on Aug. 26, 2011, and today’s ROD reaffirms the lease sale. The ROD does not grant approval to companies to begin operations in the Chukchi Sea.
The SEIS, in accordance with the Court order, provides additional analysis to supplement the NEPA review originally completed in 2007 for Lease Sale 193. Specifically, the bureau analyzed the potential impacts of natural gas development and further reviewed the relevance and importance of information identified as missing or unavailable in the 2007 analysis. The SEIS also analyzes the environmental impacts of a hypothetical Very Large Oil Spill scenario following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico.
Source: BOEM, October 4, 2011;