WASHINGTON, DC – The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced next steps for oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to comply with provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022. These steps include a proposed sale for the Gulf of Mexico region and completion of an environmental review for Cook Inlet, offshore Alaska.
The agency has published a Proposed Notice of Sale for Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil & Gas Lease Sale 259. A Proposed Notice of Sale – which will publish in the Federal Register in the coming days – will give stakeholders the opportunity to submit comments and recommendations to BOEM regarding the size, timing and location of the lease sale. The Inflation Reduction Act directed BOEM to hold Lease Sale 259 by March 31, 2023.
BOEM also says that a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing the potential impacts of Cook Inlet (Alaska) OCS Oil & Gas Lease Sale 258 has been published to its website. A Notice of Availability of the Final EIS will be published in the Federal Register in the coming days. In the Inflation Reduction Act, Congress directed BOEM to hold Lease Sale 258 by the end of the year.
The Final EIS analyzes the important environmental resources and uses (e.g., sea otter and beluga whale populations; subsistence activities; commercial fishing of pacific salmon and halibut; and more) that currently exist within the Cook Inlet planning area and identifies robust mitigation measures to be considered in leasing the area.
After analyzing a range of alternatives, the Final EIS identifies the preferred alternative, which would offer for lease 193 unleased OCS blocks (approximately 387,771 hectares or 958,202 acres). It defers the 17 OCS blocks wholly or partially overlapping beluga whale and northern sea otter critical habitats; and applies additional mitigation measures to reduce potential impacts to the beluga whales and their critical habitat and feeding areas, sea otters and their critical habitat, and the gillnet fishery.