Notice of Availability of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Final Program, 84612-84615 [2016-28296]

Download as PDF mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES 84612 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 226 / Wednesday, November 23, 2016 / Notices is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with Mr. McGee. You will receive a reply during normal business hours. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Loss of suitable sage-grouse habitat from conversion of sagebrush steppe to juniper woodlands is a major threat to Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in southwest Idaho. The BLM, in collaboration with other Federal and State agencies and local groups, is proposing to remove encroaching juniper in areas that would provide the greatest benefit to existing sage-grouse habitat and improve the long-term viability and persistence of sage-grouse in the BOSH project area. The purpose of the project is to restore, improve, and maintain Greater SageGrouse habitat at a landscape scale that is being and/or has been degraded by the encroachment of western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) into sagebrush communities. The proposed BOSH project boundary encompasses approximately 1.5 million acres in the BLM Owyhee and Bruneau Field Office management areas in Owyhee County, Idaho. Within the proposed project area, an approximately 600,000-acre focal treatment area has been identified based on modeling and treatment criteria. The preferred alternative is to remove all juniper within 3 kilometers of occupied sagegrouse leks (breeding habitat areas where male sage-grouse gather each spring to perform courtship displays to attract and mate with females), all juniper in the early phases of encroachment (greater than 20 percent canopy cover), as well as 5-acre or smaller patches of later phases of juniper encroachment (less than 20 percent canopy cover) in riparian areas deemed important for sage-grouse in the focal treatment area. Old growth juniper trees, as identified in the Draft EIS, will not be removed during these treatments. Proposed treatment methods include cutting juniper with handsaws or chainsaws, lopping with pruning shears, or using heavy equipment such as a track-hoe fitted with a grinding implement (masticator) or a shearing implement (large, powerful pruning shears). Juniper material (logs, branches, etc.) may be scattered on site and left, or the material may be jackpot-burned or piled and burned where scattering cut material is not feasible or desirable (e.g., where there would be too much material to scatter, or in riparian areas). The focal treatment area includes approximately 47,000 acres of designated wilderness where only nonmotorized hand tools would be used to VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:04 Nov 22, 2016 Jkt 241001 cut juniper, which must be less than or equal to eight inches diameter at breast height, and access to treatment areas would be permitted on foot only. Juniper treatment in wilderness is included in the preferred alternative because 92 percent of the wilderness area (43,000 acres) is identified as a Priority Habitat Management Area for sage-grouse, and the remaining 8 percent (4,000 acres) is considered a General Habitat Management Area. Habitat management areas are delineated in the Record of Decision for the 2015 Greater Sage-Grouse Approved Resource Management Plan Amendments for Idaho and Southwest Montana. The BLM used the Minimum Requirements Decision Guide (MRDG) to ensure that juniper treatments in wilderness areas would produce the least disturbance possible (e.g., hand saws only, no vehicle travel off designated roads, foot traffic only, etc.). The other alternatives analyzed in the draft EIS include the No Action alternative (i.e., present management would continue as usual and the project would not be implemented in any form) and an action alternative to treat juniper on approximately 553,000 acres within the project area boundary that excludes wilderness (i.e., juniper in the 47, 000 acres of designated wilderness would remain untreated). Internal meetings and meetings with collaborators to discuss and develop the project proposal began in 2013. A 30day public scoping period was held from January 20 to February 20, 2015 to aid the BLM in project development. The scoping period included public meetings held at the Boise District Office on February 4, 2015 and at the Owyhee County Historical Museum on February 5, 2015. Important issues identified during internal and public scoping and addressed in the document include effects to the following: wildlife habitat (especially sage-grouse and migratory birds), native plant communities, riparian areas and vegetation, soils, visual resources, spread of noxious weeds and invasive plants, wilderness values, recreation values, cultural resources, and social values. Please note that public comments and information submitted including names, street addresses, and email addresses of persons who submit comments will be available for public review and disclosure at the above address during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), Monday through Friday, except holidays. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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. Authority: 40 CFR 1506.6, 40 CFR 1506.10. Lara Douglas, BLM Boise District Manager. [FR Doc. 2016–28236 Filed 11–22–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–GG–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Ocean Energy Management [Docket No. BOEM–2016–0003]; [MAA104000] Notice of Availability of the 2017–2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Final Program Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability. AGENCY: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is announcing the availability of the 2017–2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Final Program (‘‘Proposed Final Program’’ or ‘‘PFP’’). This proposal is the last of three proposals for the 2017–2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program that will succeed the current, 2012–2017 Program. The PFP provides information and analyses to inform the Secretary of the Interior’s (Secretary) decision on the size, timing, and location of leasing in the 2017–2022 Program. Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1344) specifies a multi-step process of consultation and analysis that must be completed before the Secretary may approve a new OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, commonly known as the FiveYear Program. The required steps following this notice include a minimum 60-day period after the submission of the PFP to the President and Congress before the Secretary may approve the 2017–2022 Program. Concurrently with this notice, and pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), BOEM is publishing a Notice of Availability (NOA) of the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the 2017– 2022 Program. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Kelly Hammerle, Five-Year Program Manager, at (703) 787–1613 or Kelly.hammerle@boem.gov. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\23NON1.SGM 23NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 226 / Wednesday, November 23, 2016 / Notices SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act requires the Secretary to prepare and maintain a schedule of proposed OCS oil and gas lease sales determined to ‘‘best meet national energy needs for the five-year period following its approval or reapproval.’’ This PFP is the last of three proposed leasing schedules for OCS lease sales under the 2017–2022 Program. The first proposal, the Draft Proposed Program (DPP), was published on January 29, 2015, and was followed by a 60-day comment period that ended on March 30, 2015. The second proposal, the Proposed Program, was published on March 18, 2016, with a 90day comment period that closed on June 16, 2016. The areas identified in the PFP were chosen after careful consideration of the factors specified in Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act and the comments received during the Program development process. Included in this PFP is an analysis of the lease sale options identified by the Secretary in the Proposed Program. The development of the Five-Year Program is a winnowing process; thus, only those areas that the Secretary decided were appropriate to include in the Proposed Program are analyzed in the PFP and the associated Final PEIS. The PFP and Final PEIS will be submitted to the President and Congress at least 60 days prior to Secretarial approval of the 2017–2022 Program. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Summary of the Proposed Final Program As part of the Administration’s energy strategy, the PFP is designed to best meet the nation’s energy needs. It takes into account the Section 18 requirement to balance the potential for discovery of offshore oil and gas resources with the potential for environmental damage and the potential for adverse impact on the coastal zone. In weighing the Section 18 factors to develop a nationwide program, region-specific considerations were taken into account, including information about resource potential, the status of resource development and infrastructure to support oil and gas activities and emergency response capabilities, industry interest, and the regional interests and policies of affected states. Through the Five-Year Program winnowing process, the Secretary gathers information to determine the timing of lease sales and the combination of offshore areas that will, if leased, best meet the energy needs of the nation while protecting VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:04 Nov 22, 2016 Jkt 241001 against environmental damage and adverse impact to the coastal zone. Grounded in the above principles, and after careful consideration of public input and the OCS Lands Act Section 18(a)(2) factors, the PFP contains a proposed lease sale schedule of 11 lease sales, 10 in those portions of three OCS planning areas in the Gulf of Mexico that are not subject to moratorium, and one in the Cook Inlet offshore Alaska. These areas have high resource potential, existing Federal or state leases and infrastructure, and more manageable potential environmental and coastal conflicts from development as compared to other OCS areas that are not included in the 2017–2022 Program. In total, the PFP makes available approximately 70 percent of the resources that are economically recoverable at an oil price of $40 per barrel, and nearly one half of the estimated undiscovered technically recoverable OCS oil and gas resources. 84613 proposal includes region-wide sales: One sale in 2017 and 2022, and two sales in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. Alaska Region In Alaska, the PFP includes a Cook Inlet lease sale in 2021 that comprises the northern portion of the Cook Inlet Planning Area (see Figure 2). Cook Inlet is a mature basin with a long history of oil and gas development in State waters, where existing infrastructure is capable of supporting new activity. The design of this lease sale area allows for the protection of the endangered beluga whale, and for the protection of northern sea otter critical habitat, and makes available those areas with the greatest industry interest and significant oil and gas resource potential. BOEM will continue to use developing scientific information and stakeholder feedback to determine, in advance of any sale, which specific areas offer the greatest resource potential, while minimizing conflicts with environmental, subsistence, and TABLE 1—2017–2022 PROPOSED multiple use considerations in Cook FINAL PROGRAM LEASE SALE Inlet. SCHEDULE The DPP and Proposed Program included one sale each in the Chukchi Year Planning area Sale No. Sea and Beaufort Sea Planning Areas. 1. 2017 ............ Gulf of Mexico 249 After considering all available 2. 2018 ............ Gulf of Mexico 250 information and analyses, the Secretary 3. 2018 ............ Gulf of Mexico 251 removed the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort 4. 2019 ............ Gulf of Mexico 252 Sea Program Areas from the PFP. The 5. 2019 ............ Gulf of Mexico 253 Secretary’s decision to remove the 6. 2020 ............ Gulf of Mexico 254 Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea Program 7. 2020 ............ Gulf of Mexico 256 Areas was based on a consideration of 8. 2021 ............ Gulf of Mexico 257 the Section 18(a)(2) factors, which 9. 2021 ............ Cook Inlet ........ 258 include regional geographical, 10. 2021 .......... Gulf of Mexico 259 geological and ecological characteristics 11. 2022 .......... Gulf of Mexico 261 of the region; equitable sharing of developmental benefits and Gulf of Mexico Region environmental risks among regions; The Gulf of Mexico combines environmental and predictive abundant proven and estimated oil and information; industry interest; regional gas resources, broad industry interest, and national energy markets; state goals and well-developed infrastructure. The and policy; environmental sensitivity; oil and gas resource potential of the and other uses of the various planning Western and Central Gulf of Mexico, as areas. While there are significant well as the portion of the Eastern Gulf hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic, the of Mexico that is not subject to region is a unique, sensitive, and costly Congressional moratorium, is the best environment in which to operate. understood of all of the OCS planning Unlike the Cook Inlet, the Arctic OCS is areas. Not only are the oil and gas remote, and would require substantially resource volume estimates for the Gulf more new investment for large-scale of Mexico OCS unparalleled, the OCS development. Industry voiced its existing infrastructure to support interest in the Arctic OCS in the development is mature for and able to comment period on the Proposed support oil and gas activity and Program. However, foreshadowed by response capabilities in the event of an Shell’s disappointing 2015 drilling emergency. Of the 11 lease sales included in the season and subsequent announcement PFP, 10 are in the Gulf of Mexico (see that it would leave the U.S. Arctic for Figure 1), where infrastructure is well the foreseeable future, industry has established, and there is strong adjacent demonstrated its declining interest in state support and significant oil and gas the Arctic OCS with the relinquishment resource potential. The Gulf of Mexico of the majority of leases in these two PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\23NON1.SGM 23NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 226 / Wednesday, November 23, 2016 / Notices mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES Planning Areas. In fact, the number of active leases in the Arctic OCS has declined by more than 90 percent in a matter of months, from 527 in February 2016 to only 43 as of October 2016, with most of these expected to expire in 2017. While the Arctic OCS has the potential to provide domestic energy production when economic conditions are considerably more favorable, the increase in domestic onshore production from shale formations and other market factors have shifted expectations regarding oil and gas price trajectories and have substantially reduced the economic incentives for Arctic exploration and production. As described in Chapter 6 of the PFP, recent developments in domestic oil and natural gas markets have reduced the United States’ reliance on imported petroleum. With the existing U.S. onshore crude production increasing in every year since 2008, and substantial Gulf of Mexico offshore production continuing, U.S. domestic energy supply remains strong. While new production can be beneficial, the Arctic lease sales are not necessary to have a VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:04 Nov 22, 2016 Jkt 241001 2017–2022 Program that best meets the energy needs of the nation. BOEM estimates that without the Arctic OCS lease sales, cumulative U.S. oil and gas production will be less than one percent lower over the 70-year life of projected activity, and only four percent lower during the years of peak production. The Nation’s energy security remains strong without leasing in the Arctic, and the oil and gas resources in the Arctic will likely become more valuable to potential bidders at some point in the future. Atlantic Region As in the Proposed Program, no lease sales are included in the Atlantic Region in the lease sale schedule for 2017– 2022. Pacific Region As in the DPP and Proposed Program, no lease sales are included in the Pacific Region in the lease sale schedule for 2017–2022. Assurance of Fair Market Value Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act requires receipt of fair market value from OCS oil and gas leases. BOEM PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4725 plans to continue to use the two-phase post-sale bid evaluation process that it has used since 1983 to meet the fair market value requirement. BOEM recently revised its post-sale bid evaluation process (see Summary of Procedures for Determining Bid Adequacy at Offshore Oil and Gas Lease Sales: Effective March 2016 at http:// www.boem.gov/Summary-ofProcedures-For-Determining-BidAdequacy/). Further, the PFP provides that BOEM may set minimum bid levels, rental rates, and royalty rates for each individual lease sale, based on BOEM’s assessment of market and resource conditions closer to the date of the lease sale. Next Steps in the Process BOEM will submit the PFP and Final PEIS to the President and Congress at least 60 days prior to Secretarial approval of the 2017–2022 Program. Dated: November 16, 2016. Abigail R. Hopper, Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. BILLING CODE 4310–MR–P E:\FR\FM\23NON1.SGM 23NON1 EN23NO16.002</GPH> 84614 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 226 / Wednesday, November 23, 2016 / Notices BILLING CODE 4310–MR–C UNITED STATES INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION By order of the Commission. Issued: November 17, 2016. William R. Bishop, Supervisory Hearings and Information Officer. [USITC SE–16–039] Government in the Sunshine Act Meeting Notice United States International Trade Commission. TIME AND DATE: December 2, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. PLACE: Room 101, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20436, Telephone: (202) 205–2000. STATUS: Open to the public. MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED: 1. Agendas for future meetings: none. 2. Minutes. 3. Ratification List. 4. Vote in Inv. Nos. 701–TA–249 and 731–TA–262, 263, and 265 (Fourth Review)(Iron Construction Castings from Brazil, Canada, and China). The Commission is currently scheduled to complete and file its determinations and views of the Commission on December 15, 2016. 5. Outstanding action jackets: none. mstockstill on DSK3G9T082PROD with NOTICES AGENCY HOLDING THE MEETING: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:04 Nov 22, 2016 Jkt 241001 [FR Doc. 2016–28360 Filed 11–21–16; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 7020–02–P INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION [USITC SE–16–040] Government in the Sunshine Act Meeting Notice United States International Trade Commission. TIME AND DATE: December 6, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. PLACE: Room 101, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20436, Telephone: (202) 205–2000. STATUS: Open to the public. MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED: 1. Agendas for future meetings: none. AGENCY HOLDING THE MEETING: PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 2. Minutes. 3. Ratification List. 4. Vote in Inv. Nos. 701–TA–470–471 and 731–TA–1169–1170 (Review) (Coated Paper Suitable for High-Quality Print Graphics Using Sheet-Fed Presses from China and Indonesia). The Commission is currently scheduled to complete and file its determinations and views of the Commission on December 20, 2016. 5. Outstanding action jackets: none. In accordance with Commission policy, subject matter listed above, not disposed of at the scheduled meeting, may be carried over to the agenda of the following meeting. By order of the Commission. Issued: November 17, 2016. William R. Bishop, Supervisory Hearings and Information Officer. [FR Doc. 2016–28361 Filed 11–21–16; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 7020–02–P E:\FR\FM\23NON1.SGM 23NON1 EN23NO16.003</GPH> In accordance with Commission policy, subject matter listed above, not disposed of at the scheduled meeting, may be carried over to the agenda of the following meeting. [FR Doc. 2016–28296 Filed 11–21–16; 8:45 am] 84615

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 226 (Wednesday, November 23, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 84612-84615]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-28296]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

[Docket No. BOEM-2016-0003]; [MAA104000]


Notice of Availability of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf 
Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Final Program

AGENCY: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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

SUMMARY: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is announcing the 
availability of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas 
Leasing Proposed Final Program (``Proposed Final Program'' or ``PFP''). 
This proposal is the last of three proposals for the 2017-2022 OCS Oil 
and Gas Leasing Program that will succeed the current, 2012-2017 
Program. The PFP provides information and analyses to inform the 
Secretary of the Interior's (Secretary) decision on the size, timing, 
and location of leasing in the 2017-2022 Program. Section 18 of the OCS 
Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1344) specifies a multi-step process of 
consultation and analysis that must be completed before the Secretary 
may approve a new OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, commonly known as 
the Five-Year Program. The required steps following this notice include 
a minimum 60-day period after the submission of the PFP to the 
President and Congress before the Secretary may approve the 2017-2022 
Program. Concurrently with this notice, and pursuant to the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), BOEM is publishing a Notice of 
Availability (NOA) of the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact 
Statement (PEIS) for the 2017-2022 Program.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Kelly Hammerle, Five-Year Program 
Manager, at (703) 787-1613 or Kelly.hammerle@boem.gov.

[[Page 84613]]


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act requires the Secretary to prepare 
and maintain a schedule of proposed OCS oil and gas lease sales 
determined to ``best meet national energy needs for the five-year 
period following its approval or reapproval.'' This PFP is the last of 
three proposed leasing schedules for OCS lease sales under the 2017-
2022 Program. The first proposal, the Draft Proposed Program (DPP), was 
published on January 29, 2015, and was followed by a 60-day comment 
period that ended on March 30, 2015. The second proposal, the Proposed 
Program, was published on March 18, 2016, with a 90-day comment period 
that closed on June 16, 2016.
    The areas identified in the PFP were chosen after careful 
consideration of the factors specified in Section 18 of the OCS Lands 
Act and the comments received during the Program development process. 
Included in this PFP is an analysis of the lease sale options 
identified by the Secretary in the Proposed Program. The development of 
the Five-Year Program is a winnowing process; thus, only those areas 
that the Secretary decided were appropriate to include in the Proposed 
Program are analyzed in the PFP and the associated Final PEIS. The PFP 
and Final PEIS will be submitted to the President and Congress at least 
60 days prior to Secretarial approval of the 2017-2022 Program.

Summary of the Proposed Final Program

    As part of the Administration's energy strategy, the PFP is 
designed to best meet the nation's energy needs. It takes into account 
the Section 18 requirement to balance the potential for discovery of 
offshore oil and gas resources with the potential for environmental 
damage and the potential for adverse impact on the coastal zone. In 
weighing the Section 18 factors to develop a nationwide program, 
region-specific considerations were taken into account, including 
information about resource potential, the status of resource 
development and infrastructure to support oil and gas activities and 
emergency response capabilities, industry interest, and the regional 
interests and policies of affected states. Through the Five-Year 
Program winnowing process, the Secretary gathers information to 
determine the timing of lease sales and the combination of offshore 
areas that will, if leased, best meet the energy needs of the nation 
while protecting against environmental damage and adverse impact to the 
coastal zone.
    Grounded in the above principles, and after careful consideration 
of public input and the OCS Lands Act Section 18(a)(2) factors, the PFP 
contains a proposed lease sale schedule of 11 lease sales, 10 in those 
portions of three OCS planning areas in the Gulf of Mexico that are not 
subject to moratorium, and one in the Cook Inlet offshore Alaska. These 
areas have high resource potential, existing Federal or state leases 
and infrastructure, and more manageable potential environmental and 
coastal conflicts from development as compared to other OCS areas that 
are not included in the 2017-2022 Program. In total, the PFP makes 
available approximately 70 percent of the resources that are 
economically recoverable at an oil price of $40 per barrel, and nearly 
one half of the estimated undiscovered technically recoverable OCS oil 
and gas resources.

      Table 1--2017-2022 Proposed Final Program Lease Sale Schedule
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Year                       Planning area        Sale No.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. 2017.............................  Gulf of Mexico.........        249
2. 2018.............................  Gulf of Mexico.........        250
3. 2018.............................  Gulf of Mexico.........        251
4. 2019.............................  Gulf of Mexico.........        252
5. 2019.............................  Gulf of Mexico.........        253
6. 2020.............................  Gulf of Mexico.........        254
7. 2020.............................  Gulf of Mexico.........        256
8. 2021.............................  Gulf of Mexico.........        257
9. 2021.............................  Cook Inlet.............        258
10. 2021............................  Gulf of Mexico.........        259
11. 2022............................  Gulf of Mexico.........        261
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gulf of Mexico Region

    The Gulf of Mexico combines abundant proven and estimated oil and 
gas resources, broad industry interest, and well-developed 
infrastructure. The oil and gas resource potential of the Western and 
Central Gulf of Mexico, as well as the portion of the Eastern Gulf of 
Mexico that is not subject to Congressional moratorium, is the best 
understood of all of the OCS planning areas. Not only are the oil and 
gas resource volume estimates for the Gulf of Mexico OCS unparalleled, 
the existing infrastructure to support development is mature for and 
able to support oil and gas activity and response capabilities in the 
event of an emergency.
    Of the 11 lease sales included in the PFP, 10 are in the Gulf of 
Mexico (see Figure 1), where infrastructure is well established, and 
there is strong adjacent state support and significant oil and gas 
resource potential. The Gulf of Mexico proposal includes region-wide 
sales: One sale in 2017 and 2022, and two sales in 2018, 2019, 2020, 
and 2021.

Alaska Region

    In Alaska, the PFP includes a Cook Inlet lease sale in 2021 that 
comprises the northern portion of the Cook Inlet Planning Area (see 
Figure 2). Cook Inlet is a mature basin with a long history of oil and 
gas development in State waters, where existing infrastructure is 
capable of supporting new activity. The design of this lease sale area 
allows for the protection of the endangered beluga whale, and for the 
protection of northern sea otter critical habitat, and makes available 
those areas with the greatest industry interest and significant oil and 
gas resource potential. BOEM will continue to use developing scientific 
information and stakeholder feedback to determine, in advance of any 
sale, which specific areas offer the greatest resource potential, while 
minimizing conflicts with environmental, subsistence, and multiple use 
considerations in Cook Inlet.
    The DPP and Proposed Program included one sale each in the Chukchi 
Sea and Beaufort Sea Planning Areas. After considering all available 
information and analyses, the Secretary removed the Chukchi Sea and 
Beaufort Sea Program Areas from the PFP. The Secretary's decision to 
remove the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea Program Areas was based on a 
consideration of the Section 18(a)(2) factors, which include regional 
geographical, geological and ecological characteristics of the region; 
equitable sharing of developmental benefits and environmental risks 
among regions; environmental and predictive information; industry 
interest; regional and national energy markets; state goals and policy; 
environmental sensitivity; and other uses of the various planning 
areas.
    While there are significant hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic, 
the region is a unique, sensitive, and costly environment in which to 
operate. Unlike the Cook Inlet, the Arctic OCS is remote, and would 
require substantially more new investment for large-scale OCS 
development. Industry voiced its interest in the Arctic OCS in the 
comment period on the Proposed Program. However, foreshadowed by 
Shell's disappointing 2015 drilling season and subsequent announcement 
that it would leave the U.S. Arctic for the foreseeable future, 
industry has demonstrated its declining interest in the Arctic OCS with 
the relinquishment of the majority of leases in these two

[[Page 84614]]

Planning Areas. In fact, the number of active leases in the Arctic OCS 
has declined by more than 90 percent in a matter of months, from 527 in 
February 2016 to only 43 as of October 2016, with most of these 
expected to expire in 2017.
    While the Arctic OCS has the potential to provide domestic energy 
production when economic conditions are considerably more favorable, 
the increase in domestic onshore production from shale formations and 
other market factors have shifted expectations regarding oil and gas 
price trajectories and have substantially reduced the economic 
incentives for Arctic exploration and production. As described in 
Chapter 6 of the PFP, recent developments in domestic oil and natural 
gas markets have reduced the United States' reliance on imported 
petroleum. With the existing U.S. onshore crude production increasing 
in every year since 2008, and substantial Gulf of Mexico offshore 
production continuing, U.S. domestic energy supply remains strong. 
While new production can be beneficial, the Arctic lease sales are not 
necessary to have a 2017-2022 Program that best meets the energy needs 
of the nation. BOEM estimates that without the Arctic OCS lease sales, 
cumulative U.S. oil and gas production will be less than one percent 
lower over the 70-year life of projected activity, and only four 
percent lower during the years of peak production. The Nation's energy 
security remains strong without leasing in the Arctic, and the oil and 
gas resources in the Arctic will likely become more valuable to 
potential bidders at some point in the future.

Atlantic Region

    As in the Proposed Program, no lease sales are included in the 
Atlantic Region in the lease sale schedule for 2017-2022.

Pacific Region

    As in the DPP and Proposed Program, no lease sales are included in 
the Pacific Region in the lease sale schedule for 2017-2022.

Assurance of Fair Market Value

    Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act requires receipt of fair market 
value from OCS oil and gas leases. BOEM plans to continue to use the 
two-phase post-sale bid evaluation process that it has used since 1983 
to meet the fair market value requirement. BOEM recently revised its 
post-sale bid evaluation process (see Summary of Procedures for 
Determining Bid Adequacy at Offshore Oil and Gas Lease Sales: Effective 
March 2016 at http://www.boem.gov/Summary-of-Procedures-For-Determining-Bid-Adequacy/). Further, the PFP provides that BOEM may set 
minimum bid levels, rental rates, and royalty rates for each individual 
lease sale, based on BOEM's assessment of market and resource 
conditions closer to the date of the lease sale.

Next Steps in the Process

    BOEM will submit the PFP and Final PEIS to the President and 
Congress at least 60 days prior to Secretarial approval of the 2017-
2022 Program.

    Dated: November 16, 2016.
Abigail R. Hopper,
Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
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[FR Doc. 2016-28296 Filed 11-21-16; 8:45 am]
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