Trump Administration Charts Path for G&G Survey Activities in the GoM
BOEM has issued a Record of Decision (ROD) establishing safeguards to reduce or eliminate impacts to marine life while setting a path forward for appropriate geological and geophysical (G&G) survey activities on the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
G&G surveys help provide an increased understanding of the nation’s OCS, including providing information to safely identify and evaluate resources and hazards for BOEM’s oil and gas, renewable energy, and marine minerals programs. As a steward for these resources, BOEM must ensure that all authorized activities are done in a safe and environmentally sound manner, and that any potential adverse impacts to the marine, coastal, and human environments are avoided or minimized.
The ROD does not authorize any G&G activities, but rather it establishes a framework for additional mandatory environmental reviews for site-specific actions and identifies applicable mitigation measures governing any future G&G activities in the region.
“G&G surveys help us make informed decisions for BOEM’s oil and gas, renewable energy and marine minerals programs,” said Mike Celata, Director of BOEM’s Gulf of Mexico office in New Orleans. “The mitigation measures chosen at this stage will help minimize the impacts of G&G activities on marine resources in the Gulf and adjacent state waters.”
BOEM will analyze the potential impacts of future sitespecific actions in subsequent evaluations, which will tier from the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). As new scientific information becomes available, these additional findings can be incorporated into the survey-specific environmental reviews through an adaptive management approach.
In developing the PEIS under the National Environmental Policy Act, BOEM coordinated with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies and organizations to develop a mitigation strategy focused on avoiding injury or disruption to marine animals or habitats.
BOEM published the draft PEIS for public comment on Sept. 30, 2016. During the 60-day comment period, BOEM received more than 61,000 comments from a variety of industry, government, and nongovernment stakeholder groups and the general public, many with constructive, substantive suggestions. Throughout this public process, BOEM also held numerous public meetings in coastal cities to discuss the process and receive attendees’ comments. On Aug. 4, 2017, BOEM published the final PEIS. BOEM received an additional 9 comments from various stakeholders after publication.
The ROD summarizes the alternatives considered, states the decision of the agency regarding the selected alternative, identifies and discusses the factors involved in the decision, conveys the practical means to avoid or minimize environmental harm that have been adopted at this programmatic stage, and describes how the chosen mitigation measures will be enforced and monitored.
The Notice of Availability of the ROD will publish in the Federal Register on Dec. 4, 2020. The ROD is available for review here.