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BOEMRE Releases Revised Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for Chukchi Sea Lease Sale 193

Addresses Public Comment and Issues Raised by U.S. District Court for Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska
- The Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) today released a Revised Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for Chukchi Sea Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Lease Sale 193, held in February 2008. The bureau is accepting additional public comment before the document is finalized. 

This Revised Draft SEIS provides additional environmental analysis supplementing the review completed as part of the planning for Lease Sale 193. Specifically, it addresses concerns raised by the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska in its July 21, 2010, decision remanding Lease Sale 193 back to the agency, and incorporates additional public comment. 

"This Revised Draft SEIS offers additional scientific, environmental and technical analysis that will assist in future decisions pertaining to the leases issued in Sale 193 in the Chukchi Sea," said BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich. "Because of what is at stake, it is extremely important that we continue to make this a transparent process that encourages the maximum amount of public participation."  

Lease Sale 193 was challenged in court by a coalition of environmental groups and Alaska Native organizations. On July 21, 2010, the District Court remanded the sale back to BOEMRE for further analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act. In its decision remanding the lease sale, the District Court stated that its decision did not require the bureau to re-do the lease sale's entire Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), but rather to address a specific set of concerns. The bureau drafted a Supplemental EIS (SEIS) to address these concerns, and made that draft available for public comment in October 2010. 

The Revised Draft SEIS released today addresses the specific issues identified by the court in the remand order. It also addresses public concerns raised during the comment period, and includes an analysis of the potential environmental effects of a hypothetical Very Large Oil Spill (VLOS) scenario. It does not address whether additional environmental analysis should be undertaken with regard to future leasing and permitting actions in the Arctic. 

A VLOS scenario is hypothetical, and is not an analysis of a well that any operator has actually proposed to drill. When an operator submits an Exploration Plan, that plan must specify the wells it proposes to drill and include an oil spill response plan that includes Worst Case Discharge values for these proposed wells. These values take into account specific depth, pressure, oil and anticipated reservoir properties for the proposed wells. These values may be lower than the hypothetical VLOS scenario used for the overall environmental analysis. 

The Revised Draft SEIS, titled "Chukchi Sea Planning Area, Oil and Gas lease Sale 193 (OCS EIS/EA BOEMRE 2010-034)," is available online at: http://alaska.boemre.gov/ref/EIS%20EA/Revised_2010_034/rev2010_034.htm. Copies of the Revised Draft SEIS are also available on CD, while supplies last. To request a copy, please submit a request in writing or via telephone to: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, Alaska OCS Region, 3801 Centerpoint Dr. Ste. 500, Anchorage, Alaska 99503-5820, (907) 334-5200 or 800-764-2627. The document is being made available in advance of the official publication in the Federal Register to ensure that all communities have timely access. 

The Federal Register notice announcing the Revised Draft SEIS will be published May 27, 2011, at which time BOEMRE will begin accepting public comments at www.regulations.gov or by mail to: Comments on the Revised Draft SEIS, Lease Sale 193 Chukchi Sea, c/o Regional Director, BOEMRE - Alaska OCS, 3801 Centerpoint Drive Ste. 500, Anchorage AK 99503-5820.  

BOEMRE is also in the process of scheduling a series of public hearings to collect public comments in Anchorage and in the communities closest to the Lease Sale 193 area. All comments must be received by July 11, 2011. Upon analyzing and addressing all of the public comments, BOEMRE will complete a Final SEIS and work diligently to prepare the Record of Decision by the court-ordered deadline of Oct. 3, 2011.

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