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be extensive, EPA-would consider the prohibition of drilling mud discharges to protect these sensitive areas.

The DEIS has a rather extensive discussion of a lease stipulation titled "Protection of Biological Resources." It appears that this stipulation, if required and invoked, could be a very effective mitigation measure since it would require the lessee to conduct site-specific surveys during virtually all phases of oil and gas activities. EPA strongly believes this is an essential mitigation measure. Site-specific information is a critical precursor to any environmental reviews and permit decisions EPA may have to make in the future. It is essential that such information on biological resources be available before any exploration, development, and production activities proceed. The process for acquiring such information should be specified in the FEIS. If the stipulation discussed above is the means to develop that information, the FEIS should so state.

We strongly recommend adoption of the stipulations described in the DEIS. As our cover letter points out, the DEIS has not included the stipulations within the scenarios used for impact assessment. Accordingly, there is no basis for assuming that protective and mitigating stipulations, particularly the stipulation, "Protection of Biological Resources," will be applied.

If the stipulations are applied by the Secretary, EPA strongly recommends that the "Protection of Biological Resources" stipulation de invoked by the Regional Manager. As we understand it, the stipulation could be attached by the Secretary to the lease sale but not invoked for specific tracts by the MMS Regional Manager. The DEIS does not describe which tracts would require the invoking of this stipulation and which would not. We suggest that the FEIS discuss, as an alternative, revising the stipulation to require its application to all tracts, unless specifically excluded by the MMS Regional Manager. 2) Baseline information:

The DEIS provides a brief description of the intertidal habitats and a short summary of the subtidal benthos along the Northern California coast. In Chapter III, the DEIS acknowledges that many data gaps exist and that the analysis is based on literature surveys and general surveys by MMS' contractors or other researchers. This lack of information makes it difficult to accurately judge whether there are unique or unusually sensitive biological assemblages that may be affected by oil and gas development activities in this area. Not only is this information important to MMS' decisionmaking process, such information will be important to subsequent EPA permit-related analyses and decisions.

The FEIS should describe how MMS proposes to satisfy these significant data gaps. We are aware, for example, that an MMS-sponsored contractor is currently engaged in a study titled "Biological Reconnaissance of Selected Benthic Habitats off Northern and Central California." We recommend that the FEIS clarify how this and other information will be integrated into the ofl and gas permitting process for Lease Sale #91.


3) Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS):

The DEIS lists 4 Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) for the proposed lease sale area (page 111-148). The ASBS are State-designated areas designed to protect intertidal and shallow subtidal areas. The DEIS states that no acceptable risk of change in the ASBS environment as a result of man's activities can be entertained. The proposed lease sale provides as a mitigation measure to defer areas that fall within 6 miles of the landward boundary of the State ASBS that are within the lease sale tracts. We commend MMS for this and strongly support the inclusion of these deferrals.

The DEIS also lists the ASBS for Northern and Central California outside the proposed lease sale area. The discussion in the FEIS should be expanded to show the proximity of all the ASBS to the lease sale area and a detailed map of the areas. Because these areas could be possible targets of oil spills, we recommend that the FEIS discuss the potential impacts to ASBS by ofl and gas activities.

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B) Other Biological Comments:

1) Pelagic Habitat:


The DEIS description of the affected biological environments covers the benthic environment, fisheries, marine mammals, and birds. The DEIS does not describe the communities inhabiting the pelagic environment other than fish. Specifically, we are concerned about pelagic plankton and nekton assemblages potentially impacted by proposed activities. discussion on impacts mentions that turbidity can affect zooplankton; however, there is no preceding description of the zooplankton community. Because pelagic organisms range from phytoplankton, zooplankton, egg and larval stages of nekton and benthos to active swimmers, there is. s. potential for oil and effluents to impact a wide range of important marine communities.

Accordingly, we recommend that the FEIS describe the impacts of the proposed sale on: the seasonal pelagic biological resources (including organisms inhabiting the water colum specific to the lease sale area); the importance of the Mendocino and Humboldt area to offshore resources; and the trophic relationships between pelagic organisms, benthic organisms, and fisheries.

2) Kelp:

The DEIS description of the kelp habitat in the lease sale area is limited. The description states that the kelp bed habitats (page 111-65) are present in some locations of the lease sale area but does not provide information on those locations or the extent of the forests. There is also no description of the biological communities or resources associated with kelp forests. The document only briefly discusses the impacts of oil spills to the kelp bed habitat and communities.

To the extent possible, the section on kelp beds should be expanded in the FEIS to include the information described above and estimate what proportion of the kelp beds would be impacted by oil and gas development.



3) Mussel Watch Project:

The DEIS briefly discusses the California State Mussel Watch Project (page 1V-32) which uses bioaccumulation by California and bay mussels to monitor the relative pollution along California's coast. Pages 111-33 to 111-37 also discuss the results of this study. These discussions of baseline conditions in the lease sale area would be strengthened by some general comparisons to other areas, particularly pristine areas and polluted areas. PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT Physical Oceanography:

The DEIS provides a very general discussion of the physical oceanography for the lease sale area. EPA believes the section concerning large-scale circulation should be expanded to provide a detailed description of regional current patterns on a seasonal basis. There is currently no description of the 3 seasons governing large scale currents over the region (Section III A.4.). Providing this information would facilitate proper analysis of the circulation patterns which govern distribution of spill events as well as normal effluents of oil and gas activities. We also recommend that the FEIS provide a more thorough discussion of upwelling along the coast in the description of the circulation patterns.

The physical oceanography section explains that there are several ma jor "modes of variability in the circulation patterns for this proposed lease sale area. Such variable circulation patterns will obviously have widely differing effects upon the various discharges and effluents resulting from the proposed activities, as well as oil spilis. We recommend that the FEIS discuss to what extent this physical oceanography data is incomplete or unavailable. It should also discuss to what extent this uncertainty affects several key analyses in the document. In particular, we believe the FEIS should document how such variability was addressed by the OSRAM. OCEAN DUMPING Disposal sites:

The DEIS notes that off the Northern California coast there are 12 "destgnated historic and active dump sites" and that materials disposed of at each site depend on the permits issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (page 111-39). Title 1 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act establishes that the dumping of materials (except dredged materials) is administered by permit from EPA. Section 102 of the Act authorizes the Administrator to designate where ocean dumping may be permitted or prohibited.

The FEIS should clarify that currently there are only four active,
Interim approved dumping sites for northern and central california. À
fifth is in the process of being proposed. Those sites are:
Crescent City Harbor-41° 43'15" N., 124° 12'10" W., (1,000 yd.



Humboldt Bay Harbor-40° 45'44" N., 124° 15'42" W., (500 yd.

Noyo River-39° 25'45" N., 123° 49'42" W., (500 yd. diameter)
San Francisco Channel Bar-37° 45'06" N., 122° 35'45" W.,

(5,000 yds. x 1,000 yds.)
Proposed Gulf of Farallons disposal site (no location yet)

The FEIS should separate the active disposal sites from historic disposal sites and clearly state the status of each site. The FEIS should also explain that these sites are only designated to receive dredged materials. No sites in this area have been designated to receive drilling muds or cuttings. For this to take place, EPA would need to forma 1 lý investigate and designate a new site. If further information is needed regarding the historical sites, MMS should contact the Corps of Engineers, San Francisco District Office.


1) Produced water:

The estimates for the volume of the produced water discharged appear to be overstated (page IV-96-97). Assuming a 1:1 ratio of produced water to oti (page IV-90) over the life of the field, calculations of produced water would result in a figure of only 0.4 billion bbls. This figure is inconsistent with the 120 billion bbls of produced water stated in the DEIS. The FEIS should clarify the discrepancy.

2) NPDES permit limits:

EPA has not proposed a monthly maximum oil and grease limit of 23 mg/l as indicated on page IV-92. The daily maximum limit of 59 mg/l was proposed as a new source performance standard (50 Federal Register 34592). AIR QUALITY 1) Class I Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Increments:

The DEIS states that the so2 increments would not be violated for Redwood National Park. In light of other comments contained in the DEIS, this statement should be clarified in the FEIS. Page VU-16 of the air Quality Report shows a maximum Eel River High Estima te impact of 8.2 ug/m3. This is several times the allowable increment (of 2 ug/m3).

Requiring mitigation to avoid any standards or increment violations (p. 11-35, item (n)) is appropriate as required by the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 75061c)). We commend MMS for explicitly requiring such protection. 2) Mitigation:

The discussion of cumulative impacts should include not only other OCS facilities but also any other expected actions that may affect National Ambient Air Quality Standards or PSD increments (p. 11-35, item (h)). Further, there is no discussion at all of mitigating particulate emissions. While not as serious as the other emissions, mitigation should be discussed. For drilling, reductions of emissions equivalent to those under Lease Sale #73 are required. This should at a minimum say that reductions at least as great as those shall be required, with greater reduction requirements possible based on other analyses, requirements, etc. (P. 11-34, item (a)).

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"(a) The Administrator shall review and comment in writing on the environmental impact of any matter relating to duties and respons tbilities yranted pursuaat to this chapter or other provisions of the authority of the Administrator, contained in any (1) legislation proposed by any Federal department or agency, (2) newly authorized Federal projects for construction and any major Federal Agency action (other than a project for construction) to which Section 4332( 2) (C) of this title applies, and (3) proposed regulations published by any department or agency of the Federal Government. Such written comment shall be made public at the conclusion of any such review,

(b) In the event the Administrator determines that any such legislation, action, or regulation is unsatisfactory from the standpoint of public health or welfare or environmental quality, he shall publish nis determination and the matter shall be referred to the Council on Environmental Quality."

This section was added to the Clean Air Act in 1970, at the time the National Environmental policy Act (NEPA) was passed and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed. The rationale was that the EISS that Federal agencies would be developing under NEPA should have an independent review and that the newly formed EPA should perform it.

EPA developed implementing procedures in 1971 to carry out this responsibility and, in conjunction with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), has refined those procedures since then. Operating procedures are contained in the manual, "Policies and Procedures for the Review of Federal Actions Impacting the Environment" (revised in 1984).

In accordance with these operating procedures, EPA reviews, comments, and makes those comments available to the public, on all Federal draft and final Eiss, proposed environmental regulations, and other proposed major actions we consider to have significant environmental effects. EPA nas reviewed all of the approximately 14,000 draft and final EiSs produced since the passaye of NEPA.

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The major elements of the 309 review process include the following:

EPA reviews and comments on both the adequacy of the analysis and

the environmental impacts of the proposed action itself. • EPA comments on issues related to our "duties and responsibilities,

which include all environmental media (i.e., air, water, etc.), methodologies related to media-impact assessment, and areas related to our regulatory responsibilities.

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