Notice of Availability of a Final Environmental Impact Statement for Effects of Oil and Gas Activities in the Arctic Ocean, 72780-72781 [2016-25475]

Download as PDF 72780 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 204 / Friday, October 21, 2016 / Notices 6 p.m. Webinar, at https:// attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/ 5214638781622248964. Additional information about the Council’s Vision Blueprint is available from the ‘‘Vision Project’’ page of the Council’s Web site, at www.safmc.net. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE975 South Atlantic Fishery Management Council—Public Meetings National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of informational Webinars. AGENCY: The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold two informational Webinars pertaining to the Council’s 2016–2020 Vision Blueprint for the Snapper Grouper Fishery. DATES: The Webinars will be held on November 21, 2016, to view the agenda see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. ADDRESSES: Council address: South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC 29405. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kim Iverson, Public Information Officer, SAFMC; phone 843/571–4366 or toll free 866/SAFMC–10; FAX 843/769– 4520; email: kim.iverson@safmc.net. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Agenda The Council will hold two Webinars to inform the public on progress to date on implementation of priority items in the 2016–2020 Vision Blueprint for the Snapper Grouper Fishery. The Vision Blueprint is a long-term strategic plan for managing the snapper grouper fishery, and has been developed with stakeholder input. The Vision Blueprint identifies the goals, objectives, strategies, and actions that support the Vision for the snapper grouper fishery and centers around four goal areas: (1) Science; (2) Management; (3) Communication; and (4) Governance. The informal Webinars are being held as part of an annual evaluation of the Vision Blueprint and are designed to let the public know what the Council accomplished during the year in terms of addressing priority items within the Blueprint. The Webinars will be conducted at 10 a.m. and at 6 p.m. The Webinars will be accessible via the Internet from the ‘‘Other Meetings’’ page of Council’s Web site, at www.safmc.net. Registration for the Webinars is required. Register for the 10 a.m. Webinar, at https:// attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/ 6323613905978491652. Register for the VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Oct 20, 2016 Jkt 241001 Special Accommodations These Webinars are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for auxiliary aids should be directed to the SAFMC office (see ADDRESSES) at least 5 business days prior to the meeting. Note: The times and sequence specified in this agenda are subject to change. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: October 18, 2016. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–25488 Filed 10–20–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE841 Notice of Availability of a Final Environmental Impact Statement for Effects of Oil and Gas Activities in the Arctic Ocean National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability of a Final Environmental Impact Statement; request for comments. AGENCY: NMFS announces the availability of the ‘‘Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Effects of Oil and Gas Activities in the Arctic Ocean.’’ The purpose of the FEIS is to evaluate, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of implementing the alternative approaches for authorizing take of marine mammals incidental to oil and gas activities in the Arctic Ocean pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was a cooperating agency on this FEIS, and as such, this FEIS also evaluates the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of implementing the alternative approaches for authorizing geological and geophysical (G&G) SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 surveys and concurring on ancillary activities under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) in the Arctic Ocean. The North Slope Borough (NSB) was also a cooperating agency on this FEIS. The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service were consulting agencies, and NMFS coordinated with the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission pursuant to our co-management agreement under the MMPA. DATES: Federal, State, and local agencies, as well as other interested parties, are invited to review this FEIS. Comments must be received on or before November 21, 2016, to be considered for our Record of Decision. The Record of Decision will include information on the alternatives considered, the preferred alternative and why we chose it, and required mitigation and monitoring. ADDRESSES: The FEIS is available for review online at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/eis/ arctic.htm. You may submit comments on this document by: • Email: Candace.Nachman@ noaa.gov. • Fax: (301) 713–0376, Attn: Jolie Harrison. • Mail: NOAA, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13805, Silver Spring, MD 20910, Attn: Jolie Harrison. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Candace Nachman, Office of Policy, NMFS at (301) 427–8031, or Jolie Harrison, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS at (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Sections 101 (a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of proposed authorization is provided to the public for review. The term ‘‘take’’ under the MMPA means ‘‘to harass, hunt, capture or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill.’’ Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as ‘‘any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a E:\FR\FM\21OCN1.SGM 21OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 204 / Friday, October 21, 2016 / Notices incidental take authorizations (ITAs) under section 101(a)(5) of the MMPA for seismic surveys, ancillary activities, and exploratory drilling. NMFS recognizes that the current level of oil and gas exploration activities is lower than what previously occurred and what was projected when the scoping process for this EIS began in February 2010. However, NMFS still receives requests for MMPA ITAs in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, and this FEIS provides decision-makers and the public with an evaluation of the environmental, social, and economic effects of the proposed action and alternatives. On December 30, 2011, NMFS published a Notice of Availability of the Draft EIS in the Federal Register (76 FR 82275). The 2011 Draft EIS includes an analysis of the proposed actions identified in the 2010 Notice of Intent (i.e., NMFS’ issuance of MMPA ITAs for take of marine mammals incidental to G&G surveys, ancillary activities, and exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and BOEM’s issuance of G&G permits and concurrence on ancillary activities in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas), the anticipated environmental impacts, and measures to minimize the impacts associated with marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment).’’ Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘. . . an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ NMFS, as the lead federal agency, prepared this FEIS to evaluate a broad range of reasonably foreseeable levels of exploration activities and associated mitigation measures that may occur in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The FEIS presents the potential impacts associated with the issuance of 72781 these activities. On March 29, 2013, NMFS published a Notice of Availability of a Supplemental Draft EIS in the Federal Register (78 FR 19212). The Supplemental Draft EIS included one new alternative not contained in the 2011 Draft EIS and a few other substantive changes. Please refer to the Notices of Availability for the Draft and Supplemental Draft EISs for that information. Alternatives NMFS evaluated a preferred alternative (Alternative 2) and five others in the FEIS. Each alternative includes an analysis of a suite of standard and additional mitigation measures that have been identified to help reduce impacts to marine mammals and to ensure no unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of marine mammals for subsistence uses. Each alternative also considers a reasonable range of oil and gas exploration activities for which MMPA ITAs could be issued. Table 1 outlines the activity levels considered in each alternative. Activity levels noted are a maximum for each alternative. TABLE 1—LEVELS OF G&G, ANCILLARY, AND EXPLORATORY DRILLING ACTIVITIES PROPOSED FOR CONSIDERATION IN THE ALTERNATIVES IN THE FEIS ON THE EFFECTS OF OIL AND GAS ACTIVITIES IN THE ARCTIC OCEAN. ACTIVITY LEVELS NOTED ARE A MAXIMUM, AND ANY COMBINATION UP TO THAT AMOUNT COULD BE ALLOWED UNDER EACH ALTERNATIVE Site clearance and shallow hazards surveys 2D/3D Seismic surveys Alternative 1 (No Action) ................................ Alternative 2—Preferred Alternative (Level 1) Alternative 3 (Level 2) .................................... Alternative 4 (Level 3) .................................... asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Alternative 5 (Level 3 with required time/area closures). Alternative 6 (any level with required use of alternative technologies). Alternatives 5 and 6 differ from Alternatives 2, 3, and 4 in the fact that each one considers required mitigation measures not contemplated in the other action alternatives. Certain time/area closures considered for mitigation on a case-by-case basis under the other action alternatives would be required under Alternative 5. The time/area closures would be for specific areas important to biological productivity, life history functions for specific species of VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:06 Oct 20, 2016 Jkt 241001 0 4 3 6 5 6 5 6 5 6 5 ................................. in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... 0 3 3 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 ................................. in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... concern, and subsistence activities. Activities would not be permitted to occur in any of the time/area closures during the specific identified periods. Additionally, buffer zones around these time/area closures could potentially be included. In addition to contemplating the same suite of standard and additional mitigation measures analyzed in the other action alternatives, Alternative 6 also includes specific additional PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 On-ice seismic surveys 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 ................................. in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... in Beaufort .............. in Chukchi ............... Exploratory drilling 0. 1 in Beaufort 1 in Chukchi. 2 in Beaufort 2 in Chukchi. 4 in Beaufort 4 in Chukchi. 4 in Beaufort 4 in Chukchi. Any level up to the maximum, as the technology only relates to seismic surveys. mitigation measures that focus on the use of alternative technologies that have the potential to augment or replace traditional airgun-based seismic exploration activities in the future. Dated: October 17, 2016. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2016–25475 Filed 10–20–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P E:\FR\FM\21OCN1.SGM 21OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 204 (Friday, October 21, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 72780-72781]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-25475]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE841


Notice of Availability of a Final Environmental Impact Statement 
for Effects of Oil and Gas Activities in the Arctic Ocean

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of availability of a Final Environmental Impact 
Statement; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS announces the availability of the ``Final Environmental 
Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Effects of Oil and Gas Activities in 
the Arctic Ocean.'' The purpose of the FEIS is to evaluate, in 
compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the 
potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of implementing the 
alternative approaches for authorizing take of marine mammals 
incidental to oil and gas activities in the Arctic Ocean pursuant to 
the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The U.S. Department of the 
Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was a cooperating 
agency on this FEIS, and as such, this FEIS also evaluates the 
potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of implementing the 
alternative approaches for authorizing geological and geophysical (G&G) 
surveys and concurring on ancillary activities under the Outer 
Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) in the Arctic Ocean. The North 
Slope Borough (NSB) was also a cooperating agency on this FEIS. The 
Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 
were consulting agencies, and NMFS coordinated with the Alaska Eskimo 
Whaling Commission pursuant to our co-management agreement under the 
MMPA.

DATES: Federal, State, and local agencies, as well as other interested 
parties, are invited to review this FEIS. Comments must be received on 
or before November 21, 2016, to be considered for our Record of 
Decision. The Record of Decision will include information on the 
alternatives considered, the preferred alternative and why we chose it, 
and required mitigation and monitoring.

ADDRESSES: The FEIS is available for review online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/eis/arctic.htm. You may submit comments on 
this document by:
     Email: Candace.Nachman@noaa.gov.
     Fax: (301) 713-0376, Attn: Jolie Harrison.
     Mail: NOAA, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, 1315 
East-West Highway, Room 13805, Silver Spring, MD 20910, Attn: Jolie 
Harrison.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Candace Nachman, Office of Policy, 
NMFS at (301) 427-8031, or Jolie Harrison, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS at (301) 427-8401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Sections 101 (a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) 
direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the 
incidental, but not intentional taking of small numbers of marine 
mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than 
commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain 
findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking 
is limited to harassment, a notice of proposed authorization is 
provided to the public for review. The term ``take'' under the MMPA 
means ``to harass, hunt, capture or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, 
capture, or kill.'' Except with respect to certain activities not 
pertinent here, the MMPA defines ``harassment'' as ``any act of 
pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a 
marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); 
or (ii) has the potential to disturb a

[[Page 72781]]

marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption 
of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, 
breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B 
harassment).''
    Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds 
that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or 
stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the 
availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where 
relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements 
pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings 
are set forth. NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 
as ``. . . an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot 
be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely 
affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of 
recruitment or survival.''
    NMFS, as the lead federal agency, prepared this FEIS to evaluate a 
broad range of reasonably foreseeable levels of exploration activities 
and associated mitigation measures that may occur in the U.S. Beaufort 
and Chukchi Seas. The FEIS presents the potential impacts associated 
with the issuance of incidental take authorizations (ITAs) under 
section 101(a)(5) of the MMPA for seismic surveys, ancillary 
activities, and exploratory drilling. NMFS recognizes that the current 
level of oil and gas exploration activities is lower than what 
previously occurred and what was projected when the scoping process for 
this EIS began in February 2010. However, NMFS still receives requests 
for MMPA ITAs in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, and this FEIS 
provides decision-makers and the public with an evaluation of the 
environmental, social, and economic effects of the proposed action and 
alternatives.
    On December 30, 2011, NMFS published a Notice of Availability of 
the Draft EIS in the Federal Register (76 FR 82275). The 2011 Draft EIS 
includes an analysis of the proposed actions identified in the 2010 
Notice of Intent (i.e., NMFS' issuance of MMPA ITAs for take of marine 
mammals incidental to G&G surveys, ancillary activities, and 
exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and BOEM's 
issuance of G&G permits and concurrence on ancillary activities in the 
Chukchi and Beaufort Seas), the anticipated environmental impacts, and 
measures to minimize the impacts associated with these activities. On 
March 29, 2013, NMFS published a Notice of Availability of a 
Supplemental Draft EIS in the Federal Register (78 FR 19212). The 
Supplemental Draft EIS included one new alternative not contained in 
the 2011 Draft EIS and a few other substantive changes. Please refer to 
the Notices of Availability for the Draft and Supplemental Draft EISs 
for that information.

Alternatives

    NMFS evaluated a preferred alternative (Alternative 2) and five 
others in the FEIS. Each alternative includes an analysis of a suite of 
standard and additional mitigation measures that have been identified 
to help reduce impacts to marine mammals and to ensure no unmitigable 
adverse impact on the availability of marine mammals for subsistence 
uses. Each alternative also considers a reasonable range of oil and gas 
exploration activities for which MMPA ITAs could be issued. Table 1 
outlines the activity levels considered in each alternative. Activity 
levels noted are a maximum for each alternative.

    Table 1--Levels of G&G, Ancillary, and Exploratory Drilling Activities Proposed for Consideration in the
Alternatives in the FEIS on the Effects of Oil and Gas Activities in the Arctic Ocean. Activity Levels Noted are
            a Maximum, and Any Combination Up to That Amount Could Be Allowed Under Each Alternative
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Site clearance and
                                     2D/3D Seismic      shallow hazards     On-ice seismic        Exploratory
                                        surveys             surveys             surveys            drilling
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alternative 1 (No Action).......  0.................  0.................  0.................  0.
Alternative 2--Preferred          4 in Beaufort.....  3 in Beaufort.....  1 in Beaufort.....  1 in Beaufort
 Alternative (Level 1).           3 in Chukchi......  3 in Chukchi......  0 in Chukchi......  1 in Chukchi.
Alternative 3 (Level 2).........  6 in Beaufort.....  5 in Beaufort.....  1 in Beaufort.....  2 in Beaufort
                                  5 in Chukchi......  5 in Chukchi......  0 in Chukchi......  2 in Chukchi.
Alternative 4 (Level 3).........  6 in Beaufort.....  5 in Beaufort.....  1 in Beaufort.....  4 in Beaufort
                                  5 in Chukchi......  5 in Chukchi......  0 in Chukchi......  4 in Chukchi.
Alternative 5 (Level 3 with       6 in Beaufort.....  5 in Beaufort.....  1 in Beaufort.....  4 in Beaufort
 required time/area closures).    5 in Chukchi......  5 in Chukchi......  0 in Chukchi......  4 in Chukchi.
Alternative 6 (any level with     6 in Beaufort.....  5 in Beaufort.....  1 in Beaufort.....  Any level up to
 required use of alternative      5 in Chukchi......  5 in Chukchi......  0 in Chukchi......   the maximum, as
 technologies).                                                                                the technology
                                                                                               only relates to
                                                                                               seismic surveys.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Alternatives 5 and 6 differ from Alternatives 2, 3, and 4 in the 
fact that each one considers required mitigation measures not 
contemplated in the other action alternatives. Certain time/area 
closures considered for mitigation on a case-by-case basis under the 
other action alternatives would be required under Alternative 5. The 
time/area closures would be for specific areas important to biological 
productivity, life history functions for specific species of concern, 
and subsistence activities. Activities would not be permitted to occur 
in any of the time/area closures during the specific identified 
periods. Additionally, buffer zones around these time/area closures 
could potentially be included.
    In addition to contemplating the same suite of standard and 
additional mitigation measures analyzed in the other action 
alternatives, Alternative 6 also includes specific additional 
mitigation measures that focus on the use of alternative technologies 
that have the potential to augment or replace traditional airgun-based 
seismic exploration activities in the future.

    Dated: October 17, 2016.
Donna S. Wieting,
Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-25475 Filed 10-20-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P