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Contact: Stephanie Burgess, 409-951-6822
Superintendent Todd Brindle announced that a Notice of Intent has been published in the Federal Register today, December 30, 2010, stating that the National Park Service (NPS) will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposed revision to the regulations that govern nonfederal oil and gas development within the boundaries of units of the National Park System. Currently, 11 of the 394 park units servicewide, including Big Thicket National Preserve have active nonfederal oil and gas operations occurring within their boundaries. The current regulations at 36 CFR Part 9, Subpart B, have been in effect for over 30 years and have not been substantively updated during that period. The National Park Service seeks to revise the regulations to update them to reflect current policies, legal requirements, and practices; improve the ease of applying the regulations for the NPS and industry; and to increase the effectiveness of the regulations in order to ensure that all nonfederal oil and gas operations conducted in National Park System units avoid or minimize, to the greatest possible extent, adverse effects on natural and cultural resources, visitor uses and experiences, park infrastructure and management, and protect public health and safety.
The publication of the Notice of Intent initiates public scoping, which is an opportunity early in the environmental planning process for the public, organizations and other agencies to suggest issues and alternatives that the NPS should consider in preparing the EIS. The EIS will analyze at a programmatic level the potential environmental impacts of a range of reasonable alternatives associated with changes to the existing regulations for regulating nonfederal oil and gas development in park units. Impact topics analyzed could include threatened and endangered species, water resources, soils, vegetation, wetlands, air resources, night skies, wildlife, cultural resources, and soundscapes. Effects on oil and gas operators, visitor experience, public safety, adjacent lands, and park operations may also be analyzed.
The Notice of Intent can be found on the Federal Register website at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/ or on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/WASO.
To be most useful in the planning process, comments should be mailed or entered in the PEPC website, https://parkplanning.nps.gov by February 28, 2011. The NPS does not plan to hold public scoping meetings for this DEIS due to the programmatic, nationwide nature of the regulations and the widely dispersed locations of the 11 parks that could be affected by the revisions. Depending on the interest generated during the public scoping period, the NPS would decide whether, and if so where, to hold public meetings in conjunction with the release for public comment of the draft Environmental Impact Statement.
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