The agency said it intends to publish an environmental impact statement (EIS) in the federal register on 23 October 2014 for Sale 244, which is a part of the 2012-2017 Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Program. The tentative date for the lease sale is November 2016.
BOEM said the EIS will focus on the potential effects of leasing, exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas in the proposed lease sale area.
The proposed lease sale area, which was identified last November, is in the Shelikof Strait between Kalgin Island to the north and Augustine Island to the south. The proposed area includes 224 blocks toward the northern part of the inlet, and covers approximately 1.08 million acres of seafloor.
BOEM said the area is closer to existing infrastructure, avoids nearly the entire area designated as critical habitat for the beluga whale and the northern sea otter, completely avoids the critical habitat for the Stellar sea lion and the North Pacific right whale, and reduces effects on national parks, preserves and wildlife refuges. It also excludes much of the subsistence-use area for the Native villages of Nanwalek and Port Graham that were identified during the last lease sale process in the area.
Public comments will be accepted until 8 December 2014. BOEM is planning five scoping meetings for communities near the Cook Inlet. Public comments will also be accepted at regulations.gov.
Off Alaska, the current five-year program (2012-2017) also will includepotential sales for the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea planning areas, tenatively scheduled for May 2016 and May 2017, respectively.
Map: Courtesy of BOEM. Click to enlarge.