[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 215 (Tuesday, November 6, 2012)]
[Pages 66626-66628]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-27080]



[FWS-R4-FHC-2012-N254; FVHC98130406900Y4-XXX-FF04G01000]

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill; Draft Early Restoration Plan and 
Environmental Review

AGENCY: Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: In accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Framework Agreement 
for Early Restoration Addressing Injuries Resulting from the Deepwater 
Horizon Oil Spill, the Federal and State natural resource trustee 
agencies (Trustees) have prepared a Phase II Draft Early Restoration 
Plan and Environmental Review (DERP/ER) describing and proposing two 
additional early restoration projects intended to continue the process 
of restoring natural resources and services injured or lost as a result 
of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which occurred on or about April 
20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico. The purpose of this notice is to 
inform the public of the availability of the DERP/ER and to seek 
written comments on the proposed restoration alternative presented in 
the DERP/ER.

    Comments Due Date: We will consider public comments received on or 
before December 10, 2012.
    Public Meetings: A public meeting is scheduled to facilitate public 
review and comment on the DERP/ER. Both written and verbal public 
comments will be taken at the meeting. The meeting will be held on 
November 13, 2012, at the Escambia County Central Complex Building 
(a.k.a. the LEED Building), Room 104, 3363 West Park Place, Pensacola, 
Florida 32505. An open house will begin at 6:00 p.m. (central time); 
the formal meeting, including a presentation of the DERP/ER will begin 
at 7:00 p.m. (central time). A meeting notice will be posted on the web 
at www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.

    Obtaining Documents: You may download the DERP/ER and the framework 
agreement at http://

[[Page 66627]]

www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov or http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon. You may also review hard copies of the DERP/ER at any 
of the public repositories listed at http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.
    Submitting Comments: You may submit comments on the DERP/ER by one 
of following methods:
     Via the Web: http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.
     For electronic submission of comments containing 
attachments, email: fw4coastalDERPcomments@fws.gov.
     U.S. Mail: c/o U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 
2099, Fairhope, Alabama 36533.




    On or about April 20, 2010, the mobile offshore drilling unit 
Deepwater Horizon, which was being used to drill a well for BP 
Exploration and Production, Inc. (BP), in the Macondo prospect 
(Mississippi Canyon 252--MC252), experienced a significant explosion, 
fire and subsequent sinking in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in 
discharges of oil and other substances from the rig and from the 
wellhead on the seabed. An estimated 4.9 million barrels (210 million 
gallons) of oil were released from the well into the Gulf of Mexico 
over a period of 87 days. In addition, approximately 1.84 million 
gallons of dispersants were applied to the waters of the spill area in 
an attempt to minimize impacts from spilled oil. Affected resources 
include ecologically, recreationally, and commercially important 
species and their habitats in the Gulf of Mexico and along the coastal 
areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.
    Federal and State trustees (listed below) are conducting the 
natural resource damage assessment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill 
under the Oil Pollution Act 1990 (OPA; 33 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.). 
Pursuant to OPA, federal and state agencies and Indian tribes may act 
as trustees on behalf of the public to assess natural resource injuries 
and losses and to determine the damages 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. 
The trustees have developed this DERP/ER under the Framework Agreement.
    The trustees are:
     U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), as represented by 
the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau 
of Land Management;
     National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on 
behalf of the
    U.S. Department of Commerce;
     U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA);
     U.S. Department of Defense (DOD);
     U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA);
     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 
     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 20, 2011, BP agreed to provide up to $1 billion toward 
early restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico to address injuries to 
natural resources caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This early 
restoration agreement, entitled ``Framework for Early Restoration 
Addressing Injuries Resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill'' 
(Framework Agreement), represents a preliminary step toward the 
restoration of injured natural resources. The Framework Agreement is 
intended to expedite the start of restoration in the Gulf in advance of 
the completion of the injury assessment process. The Framework 
Agreement provides a mechanism through which the Trustees and BP can 
work together ``to commence implementation of early restoration 
projects that will provide meaningful benefits to accelerate 
restoration in the Gulf as quickly as practicable'' prior to the 
resolution of the Trustees' natural resource damages claim.
    The Trustees actively solicited public input on restoration project 
ideas through a variety of mechanisms, including public meetings, 
electronic communication, and creation of a Trustee-wide public Web 
site and database to share information and receive public project 
submissions. Their key objective in pursuing early restoration is to 
secure tangible recovery of natural resources and natural resource 
services for the public's benefit while the longer-term process of 
fully assessing injury and damages is underway. As the first step in 
this accelerated process, the Trustees released, after public review of 
a draft, a Phase I Early Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment 
(Phase I ERP/EA) in April 2012. The Phase I ERP is currently being 
    In a continuation of the early restoration process, the Trustees 
are proposing two additional early restoration projects to address 
response injuries from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. These projects 
are approved in principle by BP. They address injuries to the nesting 
habitats of beach nesting birds and loggerhead sea turtles that 
resulted from response activities to the oil spill (e.g., efforts to 
prevent oil from reaching beaches and to remove oil from beaches). 
These projects address a number of specific public comments on the 
Phase I projects that requested development of additional habitat and 
wildlife-based early restoration projects.
    Because loggerhead sea turtles and beach nesting birds begin 
nesting along the Northeast Gulf coast in February, the Trustees 
recognize the need to implement these two proposed projects in a timely 
manner to be effective during the 2013 breeding season. Therefore, the 
Trustees are proposing these projects at this time while continuing to 
work with BP to develop additional restoration projects in accordance 
with the Framework Agreement. The Alternatives within this plan are not 
intended to, and do not fully, address all injuries caused by the spill 
or provide the extent of restoration needed to satisfy claims against 

Overview of the Draft ERP/ER

Draft Early Restoration Plan Alternatives, Including Our Proposed 

    The Draft ERP/ER is being released in accordance with the Oil 
Pollution Act, the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) 
regulations found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 15 CFR 
part 990, the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et 
seq.), and the Framework for Early Restoration Addressing Injuries 
Resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. It describes two early 
restoration alternatives: No Action--Natural Recovery (required for 
consideration by OPA) and Proposed

[[Page 66628]]

Action--Proposed Early Restoration Projects. Under the No Action 
alternative, the trustees would not implement early restoration 
projects as described in this Draft ERP/ER. Rather, the No Action 
approach would result in delaying protection and improvement of 
important nesting habitats injured by the oil spill.
    Under the Proposed Action, the Trustees are considering two 
projects that meet the selection criteria, which are also described in 
the Draft ERP/ER.

Proposed Action--Proposed Early Restoration Projects

    The proposed restoration projects are intended to protect and 
enhance beach nesting habitats used by birds and sea turtles by, among 
other things, protecting bird nesting habitat with symbolic fencing and 
signs and reducing the presence of harmful lighting on certain beaches 
as described in the plan. The proposed projects are: (1) Comprehensive 
Program for Enhanced Management of Avian Breeding Habitat Injured by 
Response in the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, and Mississippi; and (2) 
Improving Habitat Injured by Spill Response: Restoring the Night Sky. 
Each of these projects will benefit coastal nesting habitats injured by 
response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Next Step

    After the public comment period ends, the Trustees will analyze and 
address the comments and will consider all input received before an 
ERP/ER is finalized. As described above, a public meeting is scheduled 
to facilitate the public review and comment process. During public 
review and subsequent revision of the ERP/ER, negotiations with BP will 
be completed and approved projects will proceed to implementation, 
pending compliance with all applicable state and federal laws.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment including your personal identifying 
information, may be 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.

Administrative Record

    The documents comprising the Administrative Record can be viewed 
electronically at the following location: http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon.


    The primary author of this notice is Jim Haas (james_haas@nps.gov).


    The authority of this action is the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 
U.S.C. 2701 et seq.), the implementing Natural Resource Damage 
Assessment regulations found at 15 CFR part 990, and the Framework 
Agreement for Addressing Injuries Resulting from the Deepwater Horizon 
Oil Spill.

Cynthia K. Dohner,
DOI Authorized Official.
[FR Doc. 2012-27080 Filed 11-5-12; 8:45 am]