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SUMMARY OF RATING DEFINITIONS
AND FOLLOW-UP ACTION
Environmental Impact of the Action L0--Lack of objections The EPA review has not identified any potential environmental impacts requiring substantive changes to the proposal. The review may have disclosed opportunities for application of mitigation measures that could be accomplished with no more than minor changes to the proposal. EC--Environmental Concerns The EPA review has identified environmental impacts that should be avoided in order to fully protect the environment. Corrective measures may require changes to the preferred alternative or application of mitigation measures that can reduce the environmental impact. EPA would like to work with the lead agency to reduce these impacts. E0--Environmental Objections The EPA review has identified significant environmental impacts that must be avoided in order to provide adequate protection for the environment. Corrective measures may require substantial changes to the preferred alterna tive or consideration of some other project alternative (including the no action alternative or a new alternative). EPA intends to work with the lead agency to reduce these impacts. EU--Environmentally Unsatisfactory The EPA review has identified adverse environmental impacts that are of sufficient magnitude that they are unsatisfactory from the standpoint of public health or welfare or environmental quality. EPA intends to work with the lead agency to reduce these impacts. If the potential unsatisfactory impacts are not corrected at the final EIS stage, this proposal will be recommended for referral to the CEQ. Adequacy of the Impact Statement
Category 1--Adequate EPA believes the draft EIS adequately sets forth the environmental impact (s) of the preferred alternative and those of the alternatives reasonably avail able to the project or action. No further analysts or data collection is necessary, but the reviewer may suggest the addition of clarifying language or
information. · Category 2 --Insufficient Information
The draft EIS does not contain sufficient information for EPA to fully assess environmental impacts that should be avoided in order to fully protect the environment, or the EPA reviewer has identified new reasonably available alternatives that are within the spectrum of alternatives analyzed in the draft EIS, which could reduce the environmental impacts of the action. The identified additional information, data, analyses, or discussion should be included in the final EIS. Category 3.-Inadequate EPA does not believe that the draft EIS adequately assesses potentially significant environmental impacts of the action, or the EPA reviewer has identified new, reasonably available alternatives that are outside of the spectrum of alternatives analyzed in the draft EIS, which should be analyzed in order to reduce the potentially significant environmental impacts. EPA believes that the identified additional information, data, analyses, or discussions are of such a magnitude that they should have full public review at a draft stage. EPA does not believe that the draft EIS is adequate for the purposes of the NEPA and/or Section 309 review, and thus should be formally revised and made available for public comment in a supplemental or revised draft Eis. On the basis of the potential significant impacts involved, this proposal could be a candidate for referral to the CEQ.
*From EPA Manual 1640 Policy and Procedures for the Review of Federal Actions Impacting the Environment.
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
EPA believes there are significant environmental risks associated with a possible oil spili, particularly one originating in the southern Point Arena area. EPA recommends that MMS develop a new alternative to include deletion of the southern portion of Point Arena, or some other action that would reduce the probability of an oil spill reaching the Farallones/Point Reyes area. EPA also recommends that MMS analyze the effects on oil spill impacts of providing a buffer zone to protect the area near the Noyo-Albion River, the Navarro River and point Arena.
We believe that in the analysis of these alternatives, the FEIS must provide a more exhaustive consideration of possible oil spill mitigation measures. As the DEIS documents, most of the land "target" areas in Northern California are diverse, biologically productive areas with the potential to be adversely impacted by spill events. Because of these environmental concerns, we believe further discussion of oil spill mitigation measures is needed in the FEIS document. 011 Spill Modeling Results and EPA Recommendations:
The DEIS contains an extensive treatment of the ofl spill risks associated with Lease Sale #91. The key element in this risk assessment is the Oil Spill Risk Assessment Model (OSRAM). Using hypothetical resource estimates and a development "scenario," the OSRAM attempts to quantify the probabilities of an oil spill occurrence in the lease sale area over the estimated 25-30 year project life. The OSRAM also simulates oil spill trajectories and estimates probabilities of oil spill contacts for thirty-two land "targets" (within the lease sale area and adjacent to it) at 3, 10, and 30-day intervals.
The DEIS estimates the following probabilities of an oil spill. Using the "base case" resource estimates and scenario, the OSRAM estimates the mean number of 'large" (>1,000 bb1s) spills at 1.40 spills. For "very large" (>10,000 obis), the OSRAM projects 0.64 spills. The probability of one or more such spills occuring is estimated to be 753 and 478 respective is (IV-16 and -17).
The "High Case“ scenario and the "Cumulative" risk analysis estimate a higher likelihood of spills based on higher hydrocarbon resource levels. The corresponding number of spills and probabilities are: High Case:
-for large spills, there could be 2.77 spills (94% probability! •for very large spills,
1.27 spills (778 probability)
3.79 spills (98% probability) (using Base Case scenario) 5.02 spills (>99.5% probability) (using High Case scenario)
Assuming the Base Case scenario and a "large" (>1000 dbls) spill, the DEIS notes that, within the lease sale area, several areas could be contacted with some consistency: Noyo-Albion River, Navarro River and Point Arena. Outside the lease sale area, the document estimated heavy contact with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the Point Reyes Wilderness Area. The DEIS notes that the targets with the highest percentage of contacts after 3, 10, and 30 days were Point Arena (19%), the Faralion Islands/Point Reyes complex (46%), and the Farallon Islands/Point Reye's complex (57%), respectively. Other areas were also potential contacts.
Under the High Case scenario and the Cumulative analyses, many of these percentage values are higher. For example, in the event of a large oil spill under the High Case scenario, "the point Reyes/Farallon Island complex received contacts that ranged in probability from 10 to 26% after 3 days, 34 to 70% after 10 days, and 53 to 81% after 30 days."
EPA's major concern with regard to oil spills is that, should an ofl spill occur, there is a high probability of the spill contacting sensitive areas, particularly the point Reyes/Farallon Islands area. Virtual elimination of the risk of a projected oil spill contact for that area would require the choice of Alternatives II (NO Sale) or III (Оffer only the blocks in the Eel River Basin). EPA recommends that MMS frame other alternative(s) that would reduce the risk to Point Reyes/Farallones and other sensitive areas mentioned above.
Specific Oil Spill Comments:
We recommend that the FEIS be revised to address the following concerns.
1) Impact criteria:
The DEIS estimates the likelihood of oil spills contacting various targeted areas. The DEIS shows that, in many circumstances, the probability of hitting a specific land target could range from 10% to 20% or higher. While these estimates are generally dismissed by MMS as unlikely, it is unclear exactly what criteria are used to define the terms "likely" and "unlikely. We find it difficult to discount these probabilities, especially when impacts to important or sensitive resources are involved. Moreover, EPA is concerned that the DEIS frequently makes an overall conclusion that an impact is less significant because the probability of the impact is "low." Though it may be unlikely that an oil spill will contact a sensitive resource, it does not follow that such an impact is less significant in terms of adverse effects to the resources at risk.
2) 011 spill discussion and EIS format:
We found that the DEIS's organization makes it very difficult to judge the overall effect of several "impacting agents. This is especially true for perhaps the most important impacting agent, oil spills.
As the DEIS documents, oil spills can affect almost all elements of the physical and biological environment (water quality, intertidal and subtidal benthos, fish, birds, wetlands, etc.). The analysis of oil spill impacts on each of these resource categories is spread throughout the 500-page "Environmental Consequences" chapter. We believe this makes it quite difficult to determine the relative importance of all these diverse impacts. We believe this arrangement tends to underestimate the overall consequences of a potential oil spill.
For example, the summary chart comparing impacts of the Proposed Action (p. 11-60), shows only a few "moderate" impacts (water quality, fur seals, sea birds, and employment). These are considered "overalli regional" impacts; these judgments also reflect the general "conclusion" sections throughout Chapter iv. However, subsections in the resource categories throughout Chapter IV reveal that there could be many more possibilities of moderate and high impacts (e.g., the impacts from an oil spill on water quality are described as ranging from "high to low" (p. 11-44), and on estuaries and wetlands from "high to very high" (p. 11-45)). In a number of cases, the various cumulative analyses describe still higher probability of spills with attendant greater consequences. Accordingly, EPA di sagrees with the "moderate impact" conclusion for a number of environmental consequences which the DEIS portrays.
In order to better portray the impacts of an oil spill on the sensitive resources of the Farallones/Point Reyes complex, and within Point Arena, we suggest that the final Eis describe the 11kely environmental impacts of a very large oil spill reaching those resources. This description of a very large spill scenario would provide a summary of the impacts that would result (assuming a spill occurs and contacts those areas) by pulling together in one place, and for specific areas/ resources, a description of the environmental damages likely to occur from such a spill. 3) 011 spill cleanup:
EPA does not believe that the DEIS adequately discusses the capability of oil spill cleanup in Northern California waters. This information is important in determining how effective cleanup efforts will be as possible mitigation measures in the event of an oil spill. It will also help the public and decisionmakers understand the risks associated with oil spills.
The DEIS mentions some of the weather or ocean conditions necessary for an effective oil spill cleanup: winds less than 20 knots, seas of less that 6 feet, and currents less than 1-1.5 knots (page IV-25). To improve the oil spill cleanup analysis, we recommend that the FEIS provide a detailed analysis of pertinent weather and ocean conditions. For
example, the FEIS should specifically discuss the frequency and seasonality of various wave heights (particularly wave heights between 2-6 feet and over 6 feet) or sea states expected to occur in Northern California. This information should then be combined with estimates of how effective oil spill cleanup efforts are under those corresponding conditions. The overall result might be a table and discussion comparing ofl spill recovery percentages under various sea states/wave heights, noting the frequency, direction, and seasonality of those sea states/wave heights. This type of analysis would provide more useful analyses of how effective oil spill cleanup efforts might be. 4) Small oil spills:
The DEIS did not include any discussion of oil spills less than 1000 barrels. The FEIS should be expanded to include an analysis of the direct and cumulative impacts from estimated spills less than 1000 barrels, and discuss whether these more frequent spills have the potential for significant site-specific impacts. 5) Puerto Rican:
The DEIS gives the impression that the spill from the tanker Puerto Rican in 1984 was effectively cleaned up with existing equipment (page 1V-27). However, based on a review of Coast Guard data by the California Coastal Commission, only 5% of the spilled oil was recovered.
1) Subtidal habitats, benthos and the biological stipulation:
The DEIS notes that the areas where offshore oil development is most likely to have adverse effects upon the subtidal benthos (page III-65) will usually be hard bottoms and topographic highs; these include rocky outcrops, reefs, and seamounts. The DEIS explains that these areas are important largely due to the important biological communities they can support, including heavy fish concentrations, food species, and possibly rare or sensitive species. EPA agrees with that general assessment.
The DEIS also notes that, unfortunately, most of the proposed lease area has not been surveyed for these features and their associated benthic communities. The DEIS provides a rough approximation of the rocky outcrops in the proposed sale area. However, the document does not give specific locations for reefs, seamounts, or submarine canyons. Also, the DEIS does not cite any information describing the associated biological communities. This makes it quite difficult to accurately appraise the lease sale's potential environmental impacts on the benthic communities within the sale area.
EPA believes that, for purposes of issuance of a National pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, it will be important to characterize the extent of hard bottom areas. If such areas prove to