The Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement today released a final version of its supplementary environmental impact statement for the February 2008 Chukchi Sea lease sale. The agency wants public comments on this final version of the document by Sept. 26, to enable the Secretary of the Interior to determine whether to uphold the lease sale, retrospectively cancel the sale or modify the sale prior to a deadline of Oct. 3 imposed by the federal District Court for Alaska.
The SEIS comes as a result of a District Court ruling in an appeal against the Chukchi Sea lease sale by the Native Village of Point Hope, the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope and 12 environmental organizations. The ruling requires BOEMRE to make changes to some aspects of the original EIS for the lease sale and the court has banned all lease-related oil and gas exploration activities in the Chukchi Sea unless the lease sale is re-affirmed after review of a revised version of the EIS. Shell, ConocoPhillips and Statoil all have plans to explore leases that they purchased in the 2008 sale.
In addition to addressing the issues raised by the court over the content of the original EIS, BOEMRE has added to the EIS an assessment of the potential impacts of a very large oil spill in the Chukchi Sea.
“We have worked diligently to address the District Court’s concerns in a thorough and comprehensive manner,” said BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich in announcing today’s release of the final SEIS. “This will ensure that decisions relating to this lease sale will be made in a careful, balanced manner using the best scientific information available.”
See story in Aug. 28 issue, available to subscribers online at 11 a.m., Friday, Aug. 26, at www.PetroleumNews.com