As part of President Obama's all-of-the-above energy strategy, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy P. Beaudreau announced Wednesday that Interior is taking steps to assess the conventional and renewable energy resource potential in the Mid- and South Atlantic.
The draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), released Wednesday for public comment, will help inform future decisions about whether, and if so where, leasing would be appropriate in these areas.
This milestone advances BOEM's regionally-tailored approach to Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) exploration and development, consistent with the Proposed OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017, which stresses the importance of better understanding resource potential in the Mid- and South Atlantic. The draft PEIS assesses proposed geological and geophysical (G&G) activities, including seismic and other offshore surveys, in the Mid- and South-Atlantic planning areas.
"As we move forward with the safe exploration and production of our domestic energy supply, this environmental analysis will help provide the critical information we need to make smart decisions in the Mid- and South Atlantic," said Salazar. "Making decisions based on sound science, public input, and the best information available is a critical component to this Administration's all-of-the-above energy strategy."
Salazar and Beaudreau traveled to Norfolk, Va., Wednesday where they met with personnel from Fugro Atlantic, which provides geotechnical, hydrogeologic, environmental and marine survey services.
"Both government and industry rely on G&G surveys, using state-of-the-art technology, for information about the location and extent of our offshore resources," said Beaudreau. "This analysis will move us forward toward developing an updated body of scientific information about the Mid- and South Atlantic regions that will support future decisions about potential conventional and renewable resource development."
The PEIS evaluates the potential environmental effects of multiple G&G activities in these OCS planning areas and, where needed, outlines mitigation and monitoring measures that will reduce or eliminate potential impacts.
To explore, develop, produce and transport hydrocarbons safely and economically, the oil and gas industry needs modern and accurate G&G data on the location, extent and properties of hydrocarbon resources. These studies are also critical for identifying geologic hazards, archaeological resources, and hard bottom habitats that would need to be avoided during exploration and development. A variety of G&G techniques are also used to understand the extent, properties and geography of hydrocarbon resources, as well as the potential to site renewable energy structures and locate marine mineral resources like sand and gravel.
BOEM also uses G&G information to fulfill its statutory responsibilities to oversee the safety of offshore operations, support environmental impact analyses and protect the environment, ensure receipt of fair market value for leased federal lands, and conserve oil and gas resources.
To access the draft PEIS, go to www.boem.gov/oil-and-gas-energy-program/GOMR/GandG.aspx. The PEIS and related documents will also be available for public inspection tomorrow in the Federal Register at: www.archives.gov/federal-register/public-inspection/index.html.
Public meetings to receive comments are scheduled in Jacksonville, Fla.; Savannah, Ga.; Charleston, S.C; Norfolk, Va; Wilmington, N.C.; Annapolis, Md.; Wilmington, Del; and Atlantic City, N.J., to allow the public to comment on the draft PEIS and assist BOEM in developing the final PEIS. The complete public meeting schedule is available online at: www.boem.gov/oil-and-gas-energy-program/GOMR/GandG.aspx.
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