The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is soliciting information and requesting comments on the preparation of a new five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) for 2019-2024. This 2019-2024 Program will replace the current 2017-2022 Program, which was approved on January 17, 2017. The initiation of a new National OCS Program development process at this time is a key aspect of the implementation of President Donald J. Trump's America-First Offshore Energy Strategy. The National OCS Program sets forth the proposed schedule of lease sales for the subsequent five-year period, and enables the Federal Government, States, industry, and other interested parties to begin planning for the later steps in the leasing process. Comments are specifically requested on the following, among others: (1) National energy needs for 2019 to 2024; (2) equitable sharing of developmental benefits and environmental risks among the various planning areas; (3) other uses of the sea and seabed, including commercial and recreational fisheries, navigation, etc.; and (4) relative environmental sensitivity and marine productivity of the different planning areas and/or a specific section(s) of a given OCS planning area. The full list of requested information can be found here.
Pursuant to Executive Order 13795 - Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy, signed on April 28, 2017 - the Department of Commerce is conducting a review of all designations and expansions of National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments since April 28, 2007. This Notice identifies 11 National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments subject to the review and invites comments to inform the review. This notice of review is separate from the review of marine and terrestrial National Monuments under Executive Order 13792, and includes the following 6 additional National Marine Sanctuaries: Thunder Bay, American Samoa, Monterey Bay, Greater Farallones, Cordell Bank, Channel Islands.
*The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association formally reopened the comment period on this document for an additional 15 days, beginning on July 31, 2017. The original comment period closed on July 26, 2017.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) received five requests for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to conducting deep penetration seismic surveys for hydrocarbon exploration in the Atlantic Ocean. The applicants are companies that provide services, such as geophysical data acquisition, to the oil and gas industry. Upon review of the five requests, NMFS submitted questions, comments, and requests for additional information to the individual applicant companies; the resulting revised versions of the applications were determined by NMFS to be adequate and complete. In accordance to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS is now requesting comments on its proposal to authorize incidental take of marine mammals to these companies for geophysical surveys.
*As of July 5, 2017, NMFS granted comment period extension requests. Comments will now be accepted through July 21, 2017.*
The Bureau of Reclamation intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Shasta Dam Fish Passage Evaluation. This Environmental Impact Statement will evaluate the reintroduction of endangered (federally-listed) winter-run Chinook salmon and potentially spring-run Chinook salmon to their historical habitats in tributaries above Shasta Dam. The Bureau of Reclamation is looking for suggestions and information on the scope of alternatives and issues to be addressed in the full Environmental Impact Statement, and to identify important issues raised by the public related to the development and implementation of the reintroduction.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) seeks public comment to assist the review of NMFS' August 2016 Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing. This is pursuant to Executive Order 13795, Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy, which directs the secretary of Commerce to "take all steps permitted by law to rescind or revise that guidance, if appropriate.” The Technical Guidance compiles, interprets, and synthesizes scientific literature, to produce updated thresholds for assessing the effects of underwater sound on marine mammal hearing. The document is intended for use by NMFS analysts and managers and other relevant user groups and stakeholders, including other Federal agencies, when seeking to determine whether and how their activities are expected to result in hearing impacts to marine mammals via acoustic exposure. NMFS is particularly looking for comments regarding new peer-reviewed scientific literature, as well as recommendations for implementation.
This is the first ever formal public comment period for members of the public to officially weigh in on monument designations under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Executive Order 13792 directs the Secretary of the Interior to review five Marine National Monuments designated or expanded under the Antiquities Act of 1906. The list of monuments being reviewed can be found in the Federal Register text (use link below). Among other provisions, Section 1 of the Executive Order states that designations should reflect the Act’s “requirements and original objectives” and “appropriately balance the protection of landmarks, structures, and objects against the appropriate use of Federal lands and the effects on surrounding lands and communities.” One consideration of the Department of the Interior is whether designated lands are appropriately classified under the Act as “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, [or] other objects of historic or scientific interest."
The US Fish and Wildlife Service received a request from Quintillion Subsea Operation, LLC, to authorize the incidental taking by harassment of small numbers of Pacific walruses and polar bears from July 1 to November 15, 2017. The applicant has requested this authorization for its planned fiber optic cable-laying activities. The area included in the proposed authorization includes Federal waters of the northern Bering, Chukchi, and western portions of the southern Beaufort Seas, the marine waters of the State of Alaska, and coastal land adjacent to Nome, Kotzebue, Point Hope, Wainwright, Utqiagvik - formerly Barrow - and Oliktok Point (explanations of water designations here). The US Fish and Wildlife Service does not anticipate take by injury or death, and so propose authorization for take by harassment only.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the comment period on their December 9, 2009 proposed revised designation of critical habitat for Santa Ana sucker (Catostomus santaanae) under the Endangered Species Act. The comment period will be open for an additional 30 days to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the proposed revised critical habitat designation, the draft economic analysis associated with the proposed critical habitat designation, proposed revisions to proposed critical habitat in one subunit, the considered exclusion of critical habitat in two subunits, and the amended Required Determinations section of the preamble. The USFWS has provided a list of specific information that they are particularly interested in collecting comments on. There is also an announcement of the location and time of a public hearing to receive public comments on the proposal.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) provides both summaries of past fur seal harvests by Alaska Natives and “proposes annual estimates of northern fur seal subsistence harvest on the Pribilof Islands for 2017-2019”.