U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service logo  506 FW 4  
OCS Oil, Gas and MineralDevelopment (MMS)

WM#: 295 (new)
Date: December 31, 1996
Series: Interagency Activities
Part 506: Intradepartmental Coordination
Originating Office: Division of Habitat Conservation


4.1 Purpose. This chapter provides guidelines for Service participation in planning for Department of the Interior's Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil, gas, and mineral development and associated regulatory programs administered by the Minerals Management Service (MMS). These guidelines are intended to direct Service participation in the OCS planning and operating processes to maximize fish and wildlife resource benefits while complying with prevailing national energy priorities, legislation, and executive policy directives related to energy development and natural resource protection.

4.2 Scope. These guidelines apply to all Service Regions and field offices and provide for nationwide consistency of Service participation in OCS oil/gas/mineral activities. Although the majority of OCS leasing actions have been for oil and gas, the MMS has also pursued leasing activities for other minerals such as sulfur, salt, phosphorite, sand, and gravel. Service policies and guidelines for mineral exploration and development on Service lands can be found at 612 FW 2, Oil and Gas.

4.3 Policy.

A. The Service will assist the MMS in recognizing and meeting its environmental mandates in the OCS oil/gas/minerals program. The Service will advocate the protection and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources through participation in all appropriate stages of the decision process. Service responsibilities extend directly to marine, coastal wetlands, and upland resources such as sea and terrestrial birds and endangered species, as well as a shared responsibility with National Marine Fisheries Service for marine mammals, anadromous fish, and sea turtles.

B. Service involvement will primarily consist of timely and appropriate reviews of planning documents supported by written formal or informal responses that accurately convey the Service's comments and recommendations regarding the fish and wildlife aspects of OCS development proposals. In this manner, the Service will identify the potential impacts of OCS oil/gas/minerals activities on fish and wildlife and their habitats and assist in developing alternatives that avoid or minimize these harmful effects. The Service will emphasize active, early coordination with leasing agencies and their key staff on upcoming lease actions and other issues of concern. In addition, Service reviews should be fully coordinated across all affected Service program areas, as appropriate. In addition, the Service will assist MMS and other Federal agencies to comply with all other associated Federal environmental laws regarding OCS oil/gas/minerals development.

4.4 Objectives. The Service's objectives in the OCS oil/gas/minerals program are to:

A. Ensure that environmentally sound planning criteria be used to prevent or minimize adverse impacts to fish and wildlife populations, habitats, and other environmental resources.

B. The proper evaluation of biological resources potentially affected by OCS oil/gas/minerals activities, such as the ecological status of the area; coastal barriers; nationally sensitive fishery resources; wildlife refuges, and coastal, near shore, and offshore habitats.

C. The use of sound technical advice an mitigating adverse environmental impacts by recommending environmentally preferable exploration, delineation, development, production, and transportation alternatives, including the 'No Action' option, if appropriate.

D. The identification, design, and conducting of relevant environmental studies for impact assessment and mitigation recommendations upon request or when otherwise appropriate for pre-project assessments.

E. The identification and development of appropriate monitoring activities to evaluate the impacts of the proposed activities on fish and wildlife populations and their habitats.

4.5     Authorities.

A.      Fish and Wildlife Service

(1) Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a-742).
This Act establishes a comprehensive National fish, shellfish, and wildlife resource policy with emphasis on commercial fisheries. The Act directs the Department to maintain and increase public opportunities for recreational use of fish and wildlife resources. It also requires the Secretary of the Interior to ensure the development, advancement, conservation, and protection of fisheries and wildlife resources.

(2) Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1934 (16 U.S.C. 661-667e). The amendments enacted in 1946 require consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the fish and wildlife agencies of States where the “waters of any stream or other body of water are proposed or authorized, permitted or licensed to be impounded, diverted ... or otherwise controlled or modified” by any agency under a Federal permit or license. Consultation is to be undertaken for the purpose of preventing loss of and damage to wildlife resources.

(3) National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (40 CFR 1500-1508). The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the basic components of the OCS planning process be documented to ensure that the effects on the environment are considered through a systematic, interdisciplinary approach. See 505 FW 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5  for more specific guidance regarding Service participation in environmental reviews.

(4) Endangered Species Act of 1973 (50 CFR 17), as amended. The Act defines Departmental and Service responsibilities for conservation of Federally listed endangered and threatened species and designated critical habitats.

(5) Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (50 CFR 18), as amended. This Act establishes conservation programs and provides protection to marine mammals. It allows for the take of marine mammals incidental to certain activities, such as the exploration and development of the OCS for oil, gas, and minerals.

B. Other Laws and Regulations Relating to OCS Oil and Gas Leasing.

(1) Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, 1990 (15 CFR 923 et seq.), as amended. This law establishes a Federal-State partnership in the planning, development, and conservation of coastal resources under the Department of Commerce.

(2) Oil and Gas and Sulphur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf (30 CFR 250 and 256). These regulations govern all aspects of oil, gas, and sulphur exploration, development, and abandonment on the OCS.

(3) Geological and Geophysical Exploration of the OCS; Prospecting for Minerals Other Than 011, Gas, and Sulphur (30 CFR 251 and 280). These regulations govern prospecting and scientific research relating to minerals other than oil, gas, and sulphur on the OCS.

(4) The Ports and Waterways Safety Act (Section 33 U.S.C. 1223). This Act authorizes the Coast Guard to designate safety fairways, fairway anchorages, and traffic separation schemes to provide unobstructed approaches through oil fields for vessels using Gulf of Mexico ports, as well as special conditions related to oil and gas production in the Gulf.

(5) Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1801-1882). This Act establishes a fisheries conservation zone for the United States and its possessions, delineates an area from the States' seaward boundary out to 200 nautical miles, and requires a Fishery Management Plan, developed for each plan area, for each commercial species of fish in need of conservation and management within the designated areas.

(6) National Fishing Enhancement Act of 1984 (PL (99-623). The Act establishes broad artificial-reef development standards and national policy to encourage the development of artificial reefs that will enhance fishery resources and commerce in fishing. The Secretary of Commerce developed the National Policy of artificial-reef development with the cooperation of the Secretary of the Interior. This plan identifies oil and gas structures as acceptable materials for artificial-reef development.

(7) Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (33 U.S.C. 1401-1445). This Act empowers the Department of Commerce to establish marine sanctuaries and estuarine research reserves that are designed to meet the goals of, among others, providing for optimum compatible public and private use of special marine areas. This Act also designated the EPA as the Federal agency to determine whether ocean dumping of specific dredged and non-dredged materials will unreasonably degrade or endanger human health, welfare, or the marine environment.

(8) Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1344). This Act directs that the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters shall be maintained. Section 402 of the 1972 amendments established the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System to authorize EPA issuance of discharge permits (33 U.S.C. 1342). Section 403 stipulated guidelines for EPA to issue permits for discharges into the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, and ocean waters further offshore (33 U.S.C. 1393). Section 404 requires the COE to issue a permit for the discharge of dredged or fill materials in all the waters of the United States.

(9) Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 401-687). The Act empowers the COE to prohibit the unauthorized obstruction or alteration of any navigable water of the United States. This legislative authority to prevent inappropriate obstructions to navigation was extended to installations and devices an the seabed to the seaward limit of the Outer Continental Shelf by section 4(e) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953, as amended.

(10) Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982 (16 U.S.C. 3501-2510). The Act established that undeveloped coastal barriers, as defined by the Act, may be included in a Coastal Barrier Resource System. The Act prohibits all new Federal expenditures and financial assistance within the system. With certain exceptions, this includes energy development.

(11)  National Ocean Pollution Planning Act of 1978 (33 U.S.C. 1701-1709). This Act calls for the establishment of a comprehensive, coordinated, and effective ocean pollution research, development, and monitoring program by the Department of Commerce.

(12) Executive Order 12777 of October 18, 1991. The Act delegates to the Secretary of the Interior, and other agencies, Federal Water Pollution Control Act authority over offshore facilities and associated pipelines (except deep water ports) for all Federal and State waters. The Secretary's functions under this EO include spill prevention, and civil penalties, among other provisions.

(13) Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendments of 1978, 1986, and 1988 (43 U.S.C. 1331-1356). These Amendments direct the Secretary to propose an oil and gas lease schedule for orderly and timely energy development. This statute provides the Department with policies and procedures for managing oil and gas resources of the OCS. The amendments direct the Secretary to expedite exploration and development of these resources to meet national energy demands, while protecting the human, marine, and coastal environments. The MMS is delegated to develop the schedule and to administer all stages of the leasing process of OCS oil/gas/minerals development program.

(14) Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (PL 101-380). This Act authorizes the MMS to review and approve oil spill response plans submitted by oil and gas development lease applicants for both Federal and State offshore areas.

(15) Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401-7642). The Act assigns authority to the Department of Interior for the regulation of air emissions from OCS oil and gas facilities. The MMS has developed regulations for compliance with this Act that include, among others, the collection of information about potential sources of pollution for the purpose of preventing accidents.

(16) Marine Pollution Research and Control Act of 1987 (Title II of P.L. 100-200). The Act prohibits all ships, watercraft, fixed and floating drilling platforms, drilling rigs, manned production platforms, and support vessels operating under a Federal oil and gas lease from dumping plastics, vessel-generated garbage, and solid waste items both sit sea and in U.S. navigable waters.

(17) Oil Spill Contingency Plans (30 CFR 250.33, 30 CFR 250.34, and 30 CFR 250.42). These Plans require an OCS lessee to submit to MMS an Oil Spill Contingency Plan for both Federal and State offshore areas for approval when or prior to submitting a Development Operations Coordination Document.

(18) Hydrogen Sulfide Contingency Plan (30 CFR 250.33, 30 CFR 250.34, and 30 CFR 250.67). This Plan requires the MMS to make a determination of the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas for an OCS lessee. The lessee must then take all necessary and practicable precautions to protect personnel from the toxic effects of the gas and to mitigate the adverse effects of the gas to property and the environment.

(19) Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1334(a)(8)). This Act requires the coordination of the Secretary of the Interior, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, and the Administrator of the EPA to establish requirements to control air pollution in OCS areas of the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, and eastward of 87 degrees, 30 minutes West longitude in the Gulf of Mexico.

(20) Resource Recovery and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6901, et seq.). This Act provides EPA with a system to manage wastes that exceed the limit established by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit granted under the Clean Water Act. The RCRA provides a system for the safe disposal of discarded materials, such as solid and hazardous wastes, by requiring that they be transmitted to shore for disposal.

4.6 Responsibilities. The Service participates in the OCS oil/gas/minerals development program insofar as fish and wildlife concerns are involved.
 
A. General. Particular responsibilities of the Service include migratory birds, certain marine mammals, endangered and threatened species, anadromous fisheries, sea turtles, and protection and management, of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Service participates in the OCS minerals leasing and development process by providing advice and environmental reviews at various stages of this process, including fish and wildlife resource assessments, environmental studies, MMS's Secretarial Decision Documents (SDD), and lease and exploration stipulations.

B. Director. The Director provides national policy guidance and decision making on Service participation in OCS oil/gas/minerals activities, including assignment of a lead Regional Director with responsibility for coordinating field level review when OCS activity includes more than one Region.

C. Assistant Director for Ecological Services (AES).

(1) Has overall responsibility for policy development and program support for Service activities related to OCS oil/gas/minerals planning, development, and regulation.

(2) With support of other Service programs, serves as the primary advisor to the Director on all matters regarding Service participation in OCS activities.

(3) Provides staff support to the Director, and the Office of the Secretary upon request, to ensure that the Director and the Secretary are provided timely and fully coordinated technical and policy briefings or other information on OCS oil/gas/minerals issues.

D. Chief, Division of Habitat Conservation (DHC)

(1) Serves as the focal point for Service OCS oil/gas/minerals policy development. Supports the AES with information necessary for interactions with MMS and with other agencies on issues relevant to OCS oil/gas/minerals development.

(2) Reviews proposed legislation and related testimony concerning OCS oil, gas, and mineral activity and associated regulatory programs that may affect Service responsibilities. When necessary and appropriate, makes recommendations through the AES to the Director concerning new legislation to ensure equal consideration of fish and wildlife resources.

(3) Develops procedures to address Service responsibilities resulting from OCS legislation and ensures that all levels of the Service are adequately informed of any new mandates.

E. Chief, Branch of Federal Activities

(1) Supports the DHC in fulfilling its responsibilities with staff, information, analysis, and recommendations regarding OCS oil/gas/minerals issues.

(2) Develops policy and guidance, as necessary, and monitors operational activities in the Regions so that higher management levels are fully apprised of program issues, accomplishments, and problems.

(3) Initiates and maintains coordination with MMS and other Federal agencies involved with OCS oil/gas/minerals planning, leasing, development, regulation, and reclamation.

(4) Initiates and maintains coordination within and among the Regions and field offices on individual OCS oil/gas/minerals issues.

F. Regional Directors. Each Regional Director is responsible for:

(1) Conducting, coordinating, and completing all Service participation in the operational aspects of OCS oil/gas/minerals and related resources planning within their Regions.

(2) Coordinating all region-wide involved Service programs and functions with MMS on OCS and other matters, other DOI agencies, and with other Federal agencies responsible for energy development and regulation.

(3) Ensuring that Field Supervisors adhere to law, policy and procedures when making decisions and recommendations regarding OCS oil/gas/minerals activities.
 
(4) Providing Service attendance, as appropriate, at lease sale public hearings and meetings concerning OCS oil/gas/minerals and related resources within their Regions.

(5) The lead Region shall make all final decisions regarding the Service position on an OCS oil/gas/mineral activity under its jurisdiction, subject to the review of the Director.

G. Field Supervisor

(1) Review the 5-year comprehensive oil and gas leasing plan and schedule, provide biological resource information, and make recommendations on leasing and/or deferral of leasing.

(2) Represent the Service at information transfer meetings and topic-specific meetings and workshops.

(3) Develop initial and continuing Service responses to OCS oil/gas operations processes. This includes the review of resource and NEPA documents, preparation of written formal or other informal responses to document, formulation of the initial Service position, and recommendations on individual OCS oil/gas/minerals proposals. Field Supervisors will attempt to ensure the earliest possible coordination of reviews for planning and recommendations for mitigation in the best interests of fish and wildlife conservation, consistent with Service policy.

(4) Ensure that every stage of oil/gas/mineral activity proceeds with all appropriate provisions for protection of fish and wildlife resources.

(5) Comply with all applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures when representing the Service on issues relating to OCS oil/gas/minerals activities.

(6) Maintain an awareness of how OCS program objectives interrelate with other Service programs and make a concerted effort to coordinate OCS priorities with all affected Service programs.

4.7 Development of Oil/Gas/Minerals on the OCS.
 
A. General. Development and production of oil, gas, and mineral resources on the OCS generally proceeds in three phases with numerous intervening steps: leasing and exploration, which includes all pre-leasing steps; development and production; and abandonment and rehabilitation, which involves the shutdown of production and clean-up and evacuation of the lease site. The Service is generally involved in all phases of these operations to ensure the least impact on fish, wildlife, and their habitats.

B. Five-Year Leasing Plan.
 
(1) The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) requires the Secretary to prepare a program every 5 years (5-Year Plan) that specifies the size, timing, and location of areas to be assessed for Federal offshore natural gas and oil leasing. The 5-year Plan is intended to meet national energy needs while appropriately balancing environmental concerns with the opportunity to find and develop new energy resources.

(2) The Service takes an active role with MMS in the review of the 5-Year Plan and its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This process begins with a solicitation of information from interested Federal agencies, States, local governments, the oil and gas industry, and the public. The Service assists MMS in the review of information received and in preparation of the responses to these comments, as appropriate. Using the information received, along with information from environmental studies, geological analyses, and other sources, the Service and MMS will identify particularly important habitat or resource areas that should not be leased. With this information, the MMS develops a Proposed 5-year Plan and draft EIS which are released for public comment.

(3) The AES will coordinate the Service's review and response to the draft Proposed 5-year Plan and draft EIS, ensuring that all involved Service Regions and programs are aware of, and respond to, issues of concern within the time allowed for comment. Early Service involvement for fish and wildlife resource issues is important in such planning matters since it serves to guide the proposed 5-year plan's design process. It is appropriate at this stage to recommend environmental studies, if needed, adjustments to proposed sale area boundaries, buffers around sensitive fish and wildlife habitats, deletions of all or a portion of sale areas (deferrals), stipulations to be attached to leases, or other information related to fish and wildlife resource concerns.

(4) Recommendations to avoid or mitigate the adverse impacts of oil and gas development on fish and wildlife populations and habitats are more likely to be adopted if they are proposed early during the preparation of the 5-Year Plan, rather than later when individual lease sales are reviewed. No sales decisions are made as part of the development of the 5-Year Plan. For results of the Service's input and MMS's environmental studies to be meaningful, the connection between sale decisions and individual studies, and Service lease stipulations or other recommendations, must be clear and logical.
 
(5) Both agencies' inputs must lead to the development of study designs based on information needed for decision steps within the Department. Service consideration should not be limited strictly to the lease areas. All involved areas of potential impact to fish and wildlife should be analyzed and all appropriate mitigation measures considered within the context of the 5-Year Plan. Examples would include, but not be limited to, offshore platform locations, disposal of drilling fluids, locations and impacts of onshore support facilities, all aspects of pipeline construction including sub-sea routing, landfall locations, and upland impacts such as effects on wetlands or migratory bird habitats. The broadest possible scope of Service review is encouraged, consistent with limitations on agency jurisdiction and expertise and existing Service policies.

C. Individual Lease Sales - Individual lease sales proceed from the schedule approved by the Secretary in the 5-Year Plan. In general, Service concerns for individual lease sales are reflected in the agency response to the 5-Year Plan. However, new information and recommendations are not precluded from Service review and consideration during planning of individual lease sales.

(1) Leasing and Exploration.

(a) Call for Information and Nominations/Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS.

(i) The call for nominations is an official notice to the oil and gas industry, the Service, and the public to determine the general pattern of interest within a broad geographical “nomination area”. It invites nominations of tracts for a lease sale and comments on conditions to be imposed upon leasing of specific tracts. The Notice of Intent (NOI) initiates the scoping process for the draft EIS by inviting public review on significant environmental impact issues. The OCS Leasing Procedure Flow Chart is found at Appendix 3. Because early Service involvement in the overall planning process is beneficial to fish and wildlife resource concerns, the scope of Service review will encompass both leasing and exploration activities of the proposed project. The Service participates in this planning phase primarily by maintaining contact with the MMS offices and being current with their plans, then responding to the NOI.

(ii) The involved Service Regional Office will provide updated or new fish and wildlife information, indicating any concerns for sensitive areas and resources in accordance with the time schedule requested by the MMS.

All important issues of concern regarding fish and wildlife resources and associated issues that may be affected by the proposal will be identified and recommended to MMS for inclusion in the EIS. Issues of concern may include all or a portion of those issues raised in the Service review of the 5-Year Plan (see 4.7B). The Service is involved primarily with those stipulations which protect biological resources, such as sea turtles, birds, marine mammals, high relief topographic features, biologically productive bottom areas, or other important habitats. New information, such as the results of biological studies completed subsequent to approval of the 5-Year Plan or new issues of concern not previously recognized, should be raised at this stage.

(iii) If necessary and appropriate, the Service will recommend deferrals, buffer zones, or deletion of tracts within a nomination area. Such Service recommendations will be consistent with any related ESA section 7 consultation activities. When, in the judgment of the Regional Director, a shortage of available information an habitat or operating conditions, or a lack of understanding of impacts for the MMS-proposed areas exists, the Service will make every effort to identify resource information gaps and to assist in the design and conduct of environmental studies to bridge those gaps.

(iv) The Service will generally participate in the scoping process announced by the Notice Of Intent. This may include attendance at public scoping meetings and/or a written response on the scope of the EIS. At the discretion of the involved Regional Director, the Service may request that the MMS grant the Service cooperating agency to allow the Service to participate with the MMS in preparation of the draft EIS.

(b) Proposed Action and Alternatives Memorandum. The Proposed Action and Alternatives Memorandum (PAAM) documents the consultation processes and the information used to identify the proposed action (configuration of the leasing action) to be analyzed in the draft EIS. It also summarizes and analyzes responses to the Call for Nominations and the results of the scoping process. In summarizing the scoping process, the PAAM presents an analyses of the comments and concerns raised and offers options for alternatives, mitigating measures, and other issues to be analyzed in the draft EIS. The MMS will normally provide the Service a copy of a PAAM when it contains information or issues that MMS determines relate to Service jurisdiction or special expertise. However, the Service will review all PAAMs to ensure that Service responsibilities have been properly identified and satisfied. The Service will also review all PAAMs to ensure that prior agency input has been included or considered, responding to the MMS with any additions or corrections.

(c) Draft EIS. Each oil and gas lease is a significant Federal action requiring compliance with NEPA. Favorable decisions on the PAAM by the Department will result in preparation of a draft EIS and the tentative identification of leasing areas. The draft EIS will undergo agency and public review according to established procedures and, upon approval, will be filed by the MMS with the EPA. The involved Service Regional Director will ensure timely and appropriate review and response to the draft EIS in accordance with procedures described at 505 FW, Environmental Review, and other applicable guidelines. When the draft EIS is published, the Proposed Notice of Sale is published by the MMS within the same month. Service concerns usually relate to fish and wildlife resource issues associated with leasing, exploration, development, production, and abandonment of involved leases. Service comments can address fish and wildlife resource conflicts, unresolved aspects of such resource use, and any other pertinent subject matter affecting fish and wildlife resources. Generally, this responsibility will be met by:

(i) reviewing prior input, such as Service recommendations provided during the scoping process, on issues of concern to the Service;

(ii) formally analyzing the treatment of issues of concern the Service in the draft EIS, and

(iii) attending any public meetings, workshops, or hearings where Service concerns may be presented verbally and in writing, as appropriate.

(d) Final EIS. The final EIS is prepared after comments on the draft EIS are considered and testimony from the public hearings is analyzed. The involved Service Region reviews the final EIS for accuracy. The Service will participate in the review of the final EIS in accordance with procedures in Part 505 FW of the Service Manual. Following preparation, the final EIS will undergo Departmental review according to established procedures and, upon approval, will be filed by the MMS with the EPA. Prior to completion of the final EIS, the MMS will likely complete consultation pursuant to section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, if required, to evaluate the effects of the leasing action on listed or proposed endangered or threatened species of wildlife or plants. Procedures for completion of consultation are found at 50 CFR 402. Issues in dispute regarding consultation requirements or procedures will also be resolved in accordance with those procedures.

(e) Secretarial Decision Document.

(i) After the Final Environmental Impact Statement is completed, the Secretarial Decision Document (SDD) is prepared by the MMS. The SDD, in conjunction with the final EIS, provides the Secretary with information (biological, historical, economic, and social) necessary to evaluate the total impact of the proposed action as well as decision options for consideration. The SDD may present options to the Secretary regarding deferrals, stipulations, information to lessees, bidding procedures, and other issues. Through the SDD, the Secretary will make final decisions concerning the proposed sale.

(ii) The MMS normally circulates the SDD with affected Assistant Secretaries, but does not normally circulate the SDD for bureau review. However, the Service should request SDD documents for review to assure that fish and wildlife interests have been satisfied. In conjunction with the Regional and field office staffs, the AES will coordinate review of the SDD and prepare the Service response from the Director to the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. The Service should recommend program options for the SDD, including leasing and exploratory options, that are consistent with established Service positions on the proposed action and are in the best interests of conservation of fish and wildlife resources. Areas of consideration in the SDD that do not relate to fish and wildlife resource issues require no recommendation or comment from the Service.

(iii) If the Secretary decides to proceed, the timing of the sale, the location of the blocks to be offered, and the terms and conditions of the sale will be published in the Federal Register not less than 30 days before the sale.

(f) Leasing and Exploring.

(i) Before operations can be initiated, the lessee must submit to the MMS a Leasing and Exploration Plan (LEP) with maps and necessary diagrams and explanations to fully explain the proposed action. The LEP should be consistent with the PAAM. Service review of the project LEP will normally be limited to ensuring lease sale compliance with stipulations pertaining to the protection and conservation of fish and wildlife resources. The OCS Exploration Plan Review Flow Chart is found at Appendix 4. If the Service finds it has appropriate fish and wildlife comments to offer MMS on a particular proposed OCS project, the Service should notify the MMS of these pending comments as quickly as possible.

(ii) The MMS will defer any project decisions for 5 working days to allow the Service to notify the MMS of its intent to comment on a project. The Service then has 20 working days from the date MMS receives this notice of intent to comment. The Service and the National Park Service (NPS) act jointly on OCS matters, when appropriate.

(2) Development and Production.

(a) If commercial accumulations of oil/gas or other minerals have been found and defined during the exploratory phase, plans will be formulated by the lessee for development and production at the prospect site. The field development phase formally begins when a lessee submits a Development and Production Plan (OPP) to the MMS and the MMS makes the DPP available to the Service for review. The Service will review the OPP for fish and wildlife resource impacts, conflicts, unresolved aspects of such resource use, and any other pertinent subject matter affecting fish and wildlife resources. The MMS will defer any project decisions for 5 working days to allow the Service to notify the MMS of its intent to comment on a project. The Service and NPS, acting jointly when appropriate, then have 20 working days from the date MMS receives this notice of intent to comment. The OCS Development and Production Plan Review Flow Chart is shown in Appendix 5.

(b) The appropriate Regional Director will normally ensure review of the DPP for accuracy and completeness with respect to fish and wildlife issues in the affected Region. Service replies to the MMS will be limited to matters within the jurisdiction and special expertise of the Service and will be provided within the time frame established for response (see 2(a) above, unless an extension of the comment period has been approved by the MMS. At this stage, it is most important that Service recommendations be consistent with prior agency input during the 5-Year Plan development and scoping stages of the EIS.
Previously proposed Service recommendations that have not been incorporated into the DPP may be recommended,, supported by adequate scientific justification.

(c) Before drilling operations can be initiated, the lessee must submit an Application for Permit to Drill  (APD) to the MMS. This APD is included in and should be consistent with the OPP. Service review of the ADP will normally be limited to ensuring compliance with the approved OPP regarding protection and conservation of fish and wildlife resources. The MMS will defer any project decisions for 5 working days to allow the Service to notify the MMS of its intent to comment on a project. The Service and NPS, acting jointly when appropriate, then have 20 working days from the date MMS receives this notice of intent to offer the comments.

(3) Abandonment and Rehabilitation.

(a) At the conclusion of the economically productive life of a lease, operators must seal existing wells, remove all associated structures, level the drill site, and clear the site of pollutants, debris, and obstructions. Regulations for abandonment are found at 30 CFR 250.110 and are conducted under the supervision and authority of the MMS.

(b) Restoration stipulations for abandonment of production sites normally will be incorporated into any permits issued for production and development, supplemented by detailed information on rehabilitation procedures in the operational plan. Issues and environmental documentation, including NEPA compliance for abandonment, is normally included with the DPP. No additional public notice or documentation is prepared to implement abandonment and rehabilitation of a lease site.

(c) Service review and participation in abandonment is generally limited to the review of public documents, if any, prepared to evaluate the environmental effects of shut-down operations. Under such circumstances, Service review and participation will occur as described in section 4.3 of this chapter.

4.8 Selected References and Sources of Information. The following list of references may be helpful in reviewing oil/gas/minerals proposals:

A. Oil and Gas Program: Cumulative Effects. USDI, Minerals Management Service. OCS Report MMS 88-0005.1988.

B. OCS Natural Gas and Oil Resource Management: Comprehensive Program 1992-1997. (5-Year Plan). USDI, Minerals Management Service. Final EIS. MMS 92-0004.
April, 1992.

C. Drilling Discharges in the Marine Environment Reports. National Research Council. Washington, D.C. 1983.

D. The Offshore Environmental Studies Program. USDI, Minerals Management Service, Washington, D.C. Reports issued periodically by year.

E. The Ecology of Petroleum Platforms in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico: A Community Profile. USDI, Fish and Wildlife Service/Bureau of Land Management. Service/OBS-82/27. Washington, D.C. 1982.


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