Minerals service seeks EA comment on Outer Continental Shelf

The Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service seeks comments on its planned environmental assessment of rules to regulate ocean and tidal energy projects on the offshore Outer Continental Shelf.

MMS published a final programmatic environmental impact statement in November 2007, analyzing establishment of an Alternative Energy and Alternate Use program on the Outer Continental Shelf.

MMS said preparation of an environmental assessment of the AEAU program is an important step in the rulemaking process. The agency published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in December 2005. It plans to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in spring 2008.

In January, MMS issued a decision to proceed with management of alternative energy projects, including ocean energy projects, on the Outer Continental Shelf. (HNN 1/17/08) At that time, the agency said it would consider individual energy projects on a case-by-case basis before it completes final programmatic regulations.

The federal government generally considers the Outer Continental Shelf as beginning three to nine nautical miles from shore, depending on the state, and extending 200 nautical miles or more.

MMS said it would accept comments sent by March 27 regarding any new information or issues that should be addressed in the EA. Written comments can be submitted to the Branch Chief, Environmental Assessment Branch, Minerals Management Service, MS 4042, 381 Elden St., Herndon, VA 20170. Comments also can be filed electronically to an MMS e-mail address, alternative@mms.gov.

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