Notice of Availability of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group Draft Strategic Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment #3: Restoration of Wetlands, Coastal and Nearshore Habitats in the Barataria Basin, Louisiana, 60377-60379 [2017-27295]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 20, 2017 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE201 Notice of Availability of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group Draft Strategic Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment #3: Restoration of Wetlands, Coastal and Nearshore Habitats in the Barataria Basin, Louisiana National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice of availability. AGENCY: 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 Federal and State natural resource trustee agencies for the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group (Louisiana TIG) have prepared the Draft Strategic Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment #3: Restoration of Wetlands, Coastal, and Nearshore Habitats in the Barataria Basin, Louisiana (SRP/EA). The Draft SRP/EA identifies a restoration strategy that will help prioritize future decisions regarding project selection and funding. Rather than selecting specific projects for construction, the Trustees evaluate a suite of restoration techniques and approaches, for example large-scale diversions or marsh creation, to determine how to best support restoring ecosystem-level injuries in the Gulf of Mexico through restoration in the Barataria Basin. The purpose of this notice is to inform the public of the availability of the Draft SRP/EA and to seek public comments on the document. DATES: The Louisiana TIG will consider public comments received or postmarked on or before Monday, February 5, 2018. Public Meetings: The Louisiana TIG will conduct two public meetings to provide information and seek public input on the Draft SRP/EA: • January 17, 2018, in conjunction with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board Meeting; 9:30 a.m.; Louisiana State Capitol, House Committee Room 5; 900 North Third Street; Baton Rouge, LA 70802. Additional information regarding logistics for the Public Meeting, including the timing of the public comment opportunity following the sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:36 Dec 19, 2017 Jkt 244001 Board Agenda, will be posted to the Louisiana (http://la-dwh.com) and DWH websites ((http://www.gulfspill restoration.noaa.gov) (see ADDRESSES). • January 24, 2018; 5:30 p.m.; University of New Orleans; Homer Hitt Alumni Center; 2000 Lakeshore Drive; New Orleans, LA 70148. The meeting will begin with an open house at 5:30 p.m. and follow with Louisiana TIG presentation and public comment opportunity at 6:00 p.m. ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: You may download the Draft SRP at: http:// www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov, http://www.la-dwh.com. Alternatively, you may request a CD of the Draft SRP/EA (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). In addition, you may view the document at any of the public facilities listed at http://www.gulf spillrestoration.noaa.gov. Submitting Comments: You may submit comments on the Draft SRP/EA by one of following methods: • Via the Web: http://www.gulfspill restoration.noaa.gov/restoration-areas/ louisiana. • Via U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 49567, Atlanta, GA 30345; or Louisiana Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority, ATTN: Liz Williams, P.O. Box 44027, Baton Rouge, LA 70804. • In Person: Written and verbal comments may be submitted at the public meetings on January 17 and January 24, 2018. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—Mel Landry, gulfspill.restoration@noaa.gov, (301) 427–8711. • Louisiana—Liz Williams, LATIGPublicComments@la.gov, (225) 342–7308. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Introduction On April 20, 2010, the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, which was being used to drill a well for BP in the Macondo prospect (Mississippi Canyon 252–MC252), exploded, caught fire, and subsequently sank 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 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the largest maritime oil spill in United States history, discharging millions of barrels of oil over a period of 87 days. In addition, well over one 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 PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60377 also was released to the environment as a result of the spill. The Deepwater Horizon Federal and State natural resource trustees (DWH Trustees) conducted the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill under the Oil Pollution Act of 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. 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, as represented by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management; • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce; • U.S. Department of Agriculture; • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; • 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 • For the State of Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas General Land Office, and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. On April 4, 2016, the DWH Trustees reached and finalized a settlement of their natural resource damages claims with BP in a Consent Decree approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Pursuant to that Consent Decree, restoration projects in the Louisiana Restoration Area are now chosen and managed by the Louisiana TIG. The Louisiana TIG is comprised of the following DWH Trustees: E:\FR\FM\20DEN1.SGM 20DEN1 60378 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 20, 2017 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES • State of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA); • Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office (LOSCO); • Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ); • Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF); • Department of Natural Resources (LDNR); • U.S. Department of the Interior, as represented by National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management; • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce; • U.S. Department of Agriculture; and • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This restoration planning activity is proceeding in accordance with the PDARP/PEIS. Information on the Restoration Type considered in the Draft SRP/EA, as well as the OPA criteria against which alternatives were evaluated, can be viewed in the PDARP/ PEIS (http://www.gulfspill restoration.noaa.gov/restorationplanning/gulf-plan) and in the Overview of the PDARP/PEIS (http:// www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/ restoration-planning/gulf-plan). Background On March 29, 2017, the Louisiana TIG solicited project ideas to sustainably create, restore, and enhance coastal wetlands, and restore or preserve Mississippi River processes (http:// www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/ 2017/03/request-restoration-projectideas-louisiana). From that input and review of other Louisiana restoration planning efforts, including Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan and Deepwater Horizon restoration planning efforts, the Louisiana TIG published a notice of intent on April 28, 2017 announcing its initiation of strategic restoration planning through two phases (82 FR 19659). The first phase would prepare a strategic restoration plan for Louisiana’s Barataria Basin. The Deepwater Horizon spill created an ecosystem-level injury to the Gulf of Mexico, which included accelerated loss of critical wetlands, coastal, and nearshore habitats as well as injuries across all trophic levels in the Gulf of Mexico. The most severe losses to coastal marshes, which represent the foundation of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, were focused on the Barataria Basin. As described in the April 28, 2017 notice, the Louisiana TIG has prepared this Draft SRP/EA which focuses on wetlands, coastal, and nearshore habitat restoration type VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:36 Dec 19, 2017 Jkt 244001 projects in the Barataria Basin restoration area. This geographic focus is appropriate as the PDARP/PEIS found that the Barataria Basin experienced some of the heaviest and most persistent oiling from the DWH spill and because the Basin supports very high primary and secondary production that contributes to the overall health of the northern Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Overview of the Draft SRP/EA The Draft SRP/EA is being released in accordance with OPA, the OPA NRDA regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 15 CFR part 990, and NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). The Louisiana TIG focused this SRP/ EA on two wetlands, coastal and nearshore habitat restoration approaches described in the PDARP/PEIS: Creating, restoring and enhancing coastal wetlands; and restoring and preserving Mississippi-Atchafalaya River processes. Within the two restoration approaches, the PDARP/PEIS identifies a series of potential restoration techniques. These techniques, spanning both restoration approaches, are as follows (PDARP/PEIS, Appendix 5.D): • Create or enhance coastal wetlands through placement of dredged material; • Backfill canals; • Restore hydrologic connections to enhance coastal habitats; • Construct breakwaters; and • Controlled river diversions. Four project types are carried forward for additional consideration: • sediment diversion projects; • large-scale marsh creation projects; • ridge restoration projects; and • breakwater construction projects (also referred to as shoreline protection projects). After reviewing the restoration approaches and techniques, the Louisiana TIG identified 13 example projects from public submissions in response to the Notice of Solicitation and from the 2017 Coastal Master Plan. The Louisiana TIG then combined restoration techniques into four strategic restoration alternatives. With the exception of the natural recovery/no action alternative, each of these alternatives meets the Draft SRP/EA’s purpose and need ‘‘to restore the ecosystem level injuries in Barataria Basin and to restore, rehabilitate, replace, or acquire the equivalent of the injured wetlands, coastal, and nearshore habitat resources and services and compensate for interim losses of those resources from the DWH oil spill.’’ The four strategic restoration alternatives are as follows: PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 • Alternative 1: Marsh creation, ridge restoration, and large-scale sediment diversion; • Alternative 2: Marsh creation, ridge restoration, and shoreline protection; • Alternative 3: Marsh creation and ridge restoration; and • Alternative 4: Natural recovery/no action. The Louisiana TIG is proposing two decisions in this draft SRP/EA to restore ecosystem-level injuries in the Gulf of Mexico through restoration of critical wetlands, coastal, and nearshore habitat resources and services in the Barataria Basin. First, the Louisiana TIG proposes a preferred alternative that relies on a suite of restoration techniques in the Barataria Basin, including large-scale sediment diversion, marsh creation, and ridge restoration. Second, the Louisiana TIG proposes to advance specific projects forward for further evaluation and planning: The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion and two marsh creation increments within Large Scale Marsh Creation: Component E in northern Barataria Basin. The LA TIG also confirms its 2017 decision to move the Spanish Pass Increment of the Barataria Basin Ridge and Marsh Creation project forward for further evaluation and planning. The trustees are not making a decision to fund these projects for construction at this time. Rather, the trustees will continue to consider the selected projects in future Phase II restoration plans including further OPA and NEPA evaluation. The Louisiana TIG evaluated strategic restoration alternatives under criteria set forth in the OPA natural resource damage assessment regulations. The strategic restoration alternatives are consistent with the restoration alternatives selected in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Final Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan/Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PDARP/PEIS). NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the potential environmental impacts of planned actions. NEPA provides a mandate and framework for federal agencies to determine if their proposed actions have significant environmental effects and related social and economic effects, consider these effects when choosing between alternative approaches, and inform and involve the public in the environmental analysis and decision-making process. This SRP/EA tiers from the PDARP/PEIS and incorporates by reference the NEPA environmental consequences analysis found in Chapter 6 of the PDARP/PEIS. The Louisiana TIG has found, based on its evaluation in the EA portion of this SRP/EA that: (1) The PDARP/EIS E:\FR\FM\20DEN1.SGM 20DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 243 / Wednesday, December 20, 2017 / Notices included a thorough evaluation of the potential range of environmental effects that could result from the various restoration approaches and techniques analyzed in the PDARP; (2) the analysis of the environmental consequences of those approaches and techniques in the PDARP remains valid; (3) the effects of the restoration approaches and techniques, including the project selected for further planning and environmental review, evaluated in this SRP/EA are within the range of impacts evaluated in the PDARP; and (4) any new information regarding the environmental consequences of the restoration approaches and techniques, including the projects selected for further planning and environmental review, evaluated within this SRP/EA are within the range of and consistent with the environmental impacts identified and analyzed within the PDARP. Next Steps The public is encouraged to review and comment on the Draft SRP/EA. A public meeting has been scheduled to also help facilitate the public review and comment process. After the public comment period ends, the Louisiana TIG will consider the comments received before issuing a Final SRP/EA. A summary of comments received and the Louisiana TIG’s responses and any revisions to the document, as appropriate, will be included in the final document. Administrative Record The documents comprising the Administrative Record for the Draft SRP/EA can be viewed electronically at http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon/ adminrecord. Authority The authority for this action is OPA (33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.), the OPA NRDA regulations at 15 CFR part 990, and NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Dated: December 14, 2017. Carrie Selberg, Deputy Director, Office of Habitat Conservation, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2017–27295 Filed 12–19–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 21:36 Dec 19, 2017 Jkt 244001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XF877 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; North Pacific Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota Cost Recovery Programs National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of standard prices and fee percentage. AGENCY: NMFS publishes the individual fishing quota (IFQ) standard prices and fee percentage for cost recovery for the IFQ Program for the halibut and sablefish fisheries of the North Pacific (IFQ Program). The fee percentage for 2017 is 2.2 percent. This action is intended to provide holders of halibut and sablefish IFQ permits with the 2017 standard prices and fee percentage to calculate the required payment for IFQ cost recovery fees due by January 31, 2018. DATES: Valid on December 20, 2017. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carl Greene, Fee Coordinator, 907–586–7105. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Background NMFS Alaska Region administers the IFQ Program in the North Pacific. The IFQ Program is a limited access system authorized by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) and the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982. Fishing under the IFQ Program began in March 1995. Regulations implementing the IFQ Program are set forth at 50 CFR part 679. In 1996, the Magnuson-Stevens Act was amended to, among other purposes, require the Secretary of Commerce to ‘‘collect a fee to recover the actual costs directly related to the management and enforcement of any . . . individual quota program.’’ This requirement was further amended in 2006 to include collection of the actual costs of data collection, and to replace the reference to ‘‘individual quota program’’ with a more general reference to ‘‘limited access privilege program’’ at section 304(d)(2)(A). Section 304(d)(2) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act also specifies an upper limit on these fees, when the fees must be collected, and where the fees must be deposited. On March 20, 2000, NMFS published regulations in § 679.45 implementing PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60379 cost recovery for the IFQ Program (65 FR 14919). Under the regulations, an IFQ permit holder must pay a cost recovery fee for every pound of IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish that is landed on his or her IFQ permit(s). The IFQ permit holder is responsible for selfcollecting the fee for all IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish landings on his or her permit(s). The IFQ permit holder is also responsible for submitting IFQ fee payment(s) to NMFS on or before the due date of January 31 of the year following the year in which the IFQ landings were made. The total dollar amount of the fee due is determined by multiplying the NMFS published fee percentage by the ex-vessel value of all IFQ landings made on the permit(s) during the IFQ fishing year. As required by § 679.45(d)(1) and (d)(3)(i), NMFS publishes this notice of the fee percentage for the halibut and sablefish IFQ fisheries in the Federal Register during or before the last quarter of each year. Standard Prices The fee is based on the sum of all payments made to fishermen for the sale of the fish during the year. This includes any retro-payments (e.g., bonuses, delayed partial payments, post-season payments) made to the IFQ permit holder for previously landed IFQ halibut or sablefish. For purposes of calculating IFQ cost recovery fees, NMFS distinguishes between two types of ex-vessel value: Actual and standard. Actual ex-vessel value is the amount of all compensation, monetary or non-monetary, that an IFQ permit holder received as payment for his or her IFQ fish sold. Standard exvessel value is the default value used to calculate the fee. IFQ permit holders have the option of using actual ex-vessel value if they can satisfactorily document it; otherwise, the standard ex-vessel value is used. Section 679.45(b)(3)(iii) requires the Regional Administrator to publish IFQ standard prices during the last quarter of each calendar year. These standard prices are used, along with estimates of IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish landings, to calculate standard ex-vessel values. The standard prices are described in U.S. dollars per IFQ equivalent pound for IFQ halibut and IFQ sablefish landings made during the year. According to § 679.2, IFQ equivalent pound(s) means the weight amount, recorded in pounds, and calculated as round weight for sablefish and headed and gutted weight for halibut, for an IFQ landing. The weight of halibut in pounds landed as guided angler fish is converted to IFQ equivalent pound(s) as E:\FR\FM\20DEN1.SGM 20DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 243 (Wednesday, December 20, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 60377-60379]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-27295]



[[Page 60377]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XE201


Notice of Availability of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 
Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group Draft Strategic Restoration Plan 
and Environmental Assessment #3: Restoration of Wetlands, Coastal and 
Nearshore Habitats in the Barataria Basin, Louisiana

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

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: 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 Federal and 
State natural resource trustee agencies for the Louisiana Trustee 
Implementation Group (Louisiana TIG) have prepared the Draft Strategic 
Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment #3: Restoration of 
Wetlands, Coastal, and Nearshore Habitats in the Barataria Basin, 
Louisiana (SRP/EA). The Draft SRP/EA identifies a restoration strategy 
that will help prioritize future decisions regarding project selection 
and funding. Rather than selecting specific projects for construction, 
the Trustees evaluate a suite of restoration techniques and approaches, 
for example large-scale diversions or marsh creation, to determine how 
to best support restoring ecosystem-level injuries in the Gulf of 
Mexico through restoration in the Barataria Basin.
    The purpose of this notice is to inform the public of the 
availability of the Draft SRP/EA and to seek public comments on the 
document.

DATES: The Louisiana TIG will consider public comments received or 
postmarked on or before Monday, February 5, 2018.
    Public Meetings: The Louisiana TIG will conduct two public meetings 
to provide information and seek public input on the Draft SRP/EA:
     January 17, 2018, in conjunction with the Coastal 
Protection and Restoration Authority Board Meeting; 9:30 a.m.; 
Louisiana State Capitol, House Committee Room 5; 900 North Third 
Street; Baton Rouge, LA 70802. Additional information regarding 
logistics for the Public Meeting, including the timing of the public 
comment opportunity following the Board Agenda, will be posted to the 
Louisiana (http://la-dwh.com) and DWH websites ((http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov) (see ADDRESSES).
     January 24, 2018; 5:30 p.m.; University of New Orleans; 
Homer Hitt Alumni Center; 2000 Lakeshore Drive; New Orleans, LA 70148. 
The meeting will begin with an open house at 5:30 p.m. and follow with 
Louisiana TIG presentation and public comment opportunity at 6:00 p.m.

ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: You may download the Draft SRP at: 
http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov, http://www.la-dwh.com.
    Alternatively, you may request a CD of the Draft SRP/EA (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). In addition, you may view the document at 
any of the public facilities listed at http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.
    Submitting Comments: You may submit comments on the Draft SRP/EA by 
one of following methods:
     Via the Web: http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/restoration-areas/louisiana.
     Via U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 
49567, Atlanta, GA 30345; or Louisiana Coastal Protection & Restoration 
Authority, ATTN: Liz Williams, P.O. Box 44027, Baton Rouge, LA 70804.
     In Person: Written and verbal comments may be submitted at 
the public meetings on January 17 and January 24, 2018.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration--Mel Landry, [email protected], 
(301) 427-8711.
     Louisiana--Liz Williams, [email protected], (225) 
342-7308.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Introduction

    On April 20, 2010, the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater 
Horizon, which was being used to drill a well for BP in the Macondo 
prospect (Mississippi Canyon 252-MC252), exploded, caught fire, and 
subsequently sank 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 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the largest maritime 
oil spill in United States history, discharging millions of barrels of 
oil over a period of 87 days. In addition, well over one 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 also was released to the environment as a result of the 
spill.
    The Deepwater Horizon Federal and State natural resource trustees 
(DWH Trustees) conducted the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) 
for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill under the Oil Pollution Act of 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. 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, as represented by the 
National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of 
Land Management;
     National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on behalf 
of the U.S. Department of Commerce;
     U.S. Department of Agriculture;
     U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;
     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
     For the State of Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife 
Department, Texas General Land Office, and Texas Commission on 
Environmental Quality.
    On April 4, 2016, the DWH Trustees reached and finalized a 
settlement of their natural resource damages claims with BP in a 
Consent Decree approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern 
District of Louisiana. Pursuant to that Consent Decree, restoration 
projects in the Louisiana Restoration Area are now chosen and managed 
by the Louisiana TIG. The Louisiana TIG is comprised of the following 
DWH Trustees:

[[Page 60378]]

     State of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration 
Authority (CPRA);
     Oil Spill Coordinator's Office (LOSCO);
     Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ);
     Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF);
     Department of Natural Resources (LDNR);
     U.S. Department of the Interior, as represented by 
National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of 
Land Management;
     National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on behalf 
of the U.S. Department of Commerce;
     U.S. Department of Agriculture; and
     U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
    This restoration planning activity is proceeding in accordance with 
the PDARP/PEIS. Information on the Restoration Type considered in the 
Draft SRP/EA, as well as the OPA criteria against which alternatives 
were evaluated, can be viewed in the PDARP/PEIS (http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/restoration-planning/gulf-plan) and 
in the Overview of the PDARP/PEIS (http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/restoration-planning/gulf-plan).

Background

    On March 29, 2017, the Louisiana TIG solicited project ideas to 
sustainably create, restore, and enhance coastal wetlands, and restore 
or preserve Mississippi River processes (http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/2017/03/request-restoration-project-ideas-louisiana). From that input and review of other Louisiana 
restoration planning efforts, including Louisiana's Coastal Master Plan 
and Deepwater Horizon restoration planning efforts, the Louisiana TIG 
published a notice of intent on April 28, 2017 announcing its 
initiation of strategic restoration planning through two phases (82 FR 
19659). The first phase would prepare a strategic restoration plan for 
Louisiana's Barataria Basin. The Deepwater Horizon spill created an 
ecosystem-level injury to the Gulf of Mexico, which included 
accelerated loss of critical wetlands, coastal, and nearshore habitats 
as well as injuries across all trophic levels in the Gulf of Mexico. 
The most severe losses to coastal marshes, which represent the 
foundation of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, were focused on the 
Barataria Basin. As described in the April 28, 2017 notice, the 
Louisiana TIG has prepared this Draft SRP/EA which focuses on wetlands, 
coastal, and nearshore habitat restoration type projects in the 
Barataria Basin restoration area. This geographic focus is appropriate 
as the PDARP/PEIS found that the Barataria Basin experienced some of 
the heaviest and most persistent oiling from the DWH spill and because 
the Basin supports very high primary and secondary production that 
contributes to the overall health of the northern Gulf of Mexico 
ecosystem.

Overview of the Draft SRP/EA

    The Draft SRP/EA is being released in accordance with OPA, the OPA 
NRDA regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 15 CFR 
part 990, and NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.).
    The Louisiana TIG focused this SRP/EA on two wetlands, coastal and 
nearshore habitat restoration approaches described in the PDARP/PEIS: 
Creating, restoring and enhancing coastal wetlands; and restoring and 
preserving Mississippi-Atchafalaya River processes. Within the two 
restoration approaches, the PDARP/PEIS identifies a series of potential 
restoration techniques. These techniques, spanning both restoration 
approaches, are as follows (PDARP/PEIS, Appendix 5.D):
     Create or enhance coastal wetlands through placement of 
dredged material;
     Backfill canals;
     Restore hydrologic connections to enhance coastal 
habitats;
     Construct breakwaters; and
     Controlled river diversions.
    Four project types are carried forward for additional 
consideration:
     sediment diversion projects;
     large-scale marsh creation projects;
     ridge restoration projects; and
     breakwater construction projects (also referred to as 
shoreline protection projects).
    After reviewing the restoration approaches and techniques, the 
Louisiana TIG identified 13 example projects from public submissions in 
response to the Notice of Solicitation and from the 2017 Coastal Master 
Plan. The Louisiana TIG then combined restoration techniques into four 
strategic restoration alternatives. With the exception of the natural 
recovery/no action alternative, each of these alternatives meets the 
Draft SRP/EA's purpose and need ``to restore the ecosystem level 
injuries in Barataria Basin and to restore, rehabilitate, replace, or 
acquire the equivalent of the injured wetlands, coastal, and nearshore 
habitat resources and services and compensate for interim losses of 
those resources from the DWH oil spill.'' The four strategic 
restoration alternatives are as follows:
     Alternative 1: Marsh creation, ridge restoration, and 
large-scale sediment diversion;
     Alternative 2: Marsh creation, ridge restoration, and 
shoreline protection;
     Alternative 3: Marsh creation and ridge restoration; and
     Alternative 4: Natural recovery/no action.
    The Louisiana TIG is proposing two decisions in this draft SRP/EA 
to restore ecosystem-level injuries in the Gulf of Mexico through 
restoration of critical wetlands, coastal, and nearshore habitat 
resources and services in the Barataria Basin. First, the Louisiana TIG 
proposes a preferred alternative that relies on a suite of restoration 
techniques in the Barataria Basin, including large-scale sediment 
diversion, marsh creation, and ridge restoration. Second, the Louisiana 
TIG proposes to advance specific projects forward for further 
evaluation and planning: The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion and two 
marsh creation increments within Large Scale Marsh Creation: Component 
E in northern Barataria Basin. The LA TIG also confirms its 2017 
decision to move the Spanish Pass Increment of the Barataria Basin 
Ridge and Marsh Creation project forward for further evaluation and 
planning. The trustees are not making a decision to fund these projects 
for construction at this time. Rather, the trustees will continue to 
consider the selected projects in future Phase II restoration plans 
including further OPA and NEPA evaluation.
    The Louisiana TIG evaluated strategic restoration alternatives 
under criteria set forth in the OPA natural resource damage assessment 
regulations. The strategic restoration alternatives are consistent with 
the restoration alternatives selected in the Deepwater Horizon Oil 
Spill: Final Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan/
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PDARP/PEIS).
    NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the potential 
environmental impacts of planned actions. NEPA provides a mandate and 
framework for federal agencies to determine if their proposed actions 
have significant environmental effects and related social and economic 
effects, consider these effects when choosing between alternative 
approaches, and inform and involve the public in the environmental 
analysis and decision-making process. This SRP/EA tiers from the PDARP/
PEIS and incorporates by reference the NEPA environmental consequences 
analysis found in Chapter 6 of the PDARP/PEIS. The Louisiana TIG has 
found, based on its evaluation in the EA portion of this SRP/EA that: 
(1) The PDARP/EIS

[[Page 60379]]

included a thorough evaluation of the potential range of environmental 
effects that could result from the various restoration approaches and 
techniques analyzed in the PDARP; (2) the analysis of the environmental 
consequences of those approaches and techniques in the PDARP remains 
valid; (3) the effects of the restoration approaches and techniques, 
including the project selected for further planning and environmental 
review, evaluated in this SRP/EA are within the range of impacts 
evaluated in the PDARP; and (4) any new information regarding the 
environmental consequences of the restoration approaches and 
techniques, including the projects selected for further planning and 
environmental review, evaluated within this SRP/EA are within the range 
of and consistent with the environmental impacts identified and 
analyzed within the PDARP.

Next Steps

    The public is encouraged to review and comment on the Draft SRP/EA. 
A public meeting has been scheduled to also help facilitate the public 
review and comment process. After the public comment period ends, the 
Louisiana TIG will consider the comments received before issuing a 
Final SRP/EA. A summary of comments received and the Louisiana TIG's 
responses and any revisions to the document, as appropriate, will be 
included in the final document.

Administrative Record

    The documents comprising the Administrative Record for the Draft 
SRP/EA can be viewed electronically at http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon/adminrecord.

Authority

    The authority for this action is OPA (33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.), the 
OPA NRDA regulations at 15 CFR part 990, and NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.).

    Dated: December 14, 2017.
Carrie Selberg,
Deputy Director, Office of Habitat Conservation, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-27295 Filed 12-19-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-22-P