DWH NRDA Restoration - Open Ocean TIG Restoration Plan 1 and Environmental Assessment
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the largest maritime oil spill in U.S. history. It resulted in the discharge of millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), each party responsible for a vessel or facility from which oil is discharged, or which poses the substantial threat of a discharge, is liable for, among other things, removal costs and damages for injury to, destruction of, loss, or loss of use of natural resources, including the reasonable cost of assessing the damage. Pursuant to OPA, federal and state natural resource trustees, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and trustee agencies from the states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, were charged with assessing and restoring for injuries to affected Gulf resources.
Under a global settlement reached on April 4, 2016, the Trustees released the Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan/Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PDARP/PEIS). The settlement agreement includes a funding schedule that will extend through 2031. During this timeframe the trustees will provide many opportunities for public participation, including the opportunity to submit project ideas and proposals and to comment on draft restoration plans
Consistent with the PDARP/PEIS, the Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group has prepared a Draft Restoration Plan 1 and Environmental Assessment (Draft RP1/EA).
In the Draft RP1/EA, the Open Ocean TIG proposes three preferred alternatives from the Bird and Sturgeon restoration types, at a total estimated cost of $16 million. The preferred alternatives include restoration of common loons in Minnesota through conservation easements or fee title acquisitions of loon nesting habitat, breeding habitat enhancements, and reduction in exposure to lead-based fishing tackle; restoration of black terns in the prairie pothole region of North Dakota and South Dakota through conservation easements of black tern nesting habitat; and characterizing Gulf sturgeon spawning habitat, habitat use and origins of juvenile sturgeon in the Pearl and Pascagoula River Systems in Louisiana and Mississippi. The Open Ocean TIG also considered four additional alternatives, as well as the no action alternative in the Draft RP1/EA. One or more alternatives may be selected for implementation by the Open Ocean TIG in the Final RP1/EA or in future restoration plans.
The proposed alternatives are consistent with the restoration alternatives selected in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill PDARP/PEIS.
Ashley Mill, (812) 756-2712