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Soundings Archive

NMFS and MMS Take Environmental Action in Gulf of Mexico
On November 13, 2009,, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service published Federal Register notice that the Service has issued a one-year Letter of Authorization to take marine mammals incidental to the explosive removal of offshore oil and gas structures in the Gulf of Mexico. This LOA is issued to Tarpon Operating & Development, L.L.C., under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. It's effective from November 10, 2009, through November 9, 2010.

This LOA is authorized by regulations previously promulgated by NMFS and available online at The species that Tarpon may take in small numbers during these removal activities are bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, pantropical spotted dolphins, Clymene dolphins, striped dolphins, spinner dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, Risso's dolphins, melon-headed whales, short-finned pilot whales, and sperm whales.

In a separate action on November 16, 2009,, the U.S. Minerals Management Service published Federal Register notice that, pursuant to the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act, MMS has prepared an environmental assessment for proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas Lease Sale 213 in the Central Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Planning Area (Lease Sale 213). This Lease sale is scheduled for March 2010.

MMS based this EA on 1) MMS' Central Planning Area Sales 205, 206, 208, 213, 216, and 222--Final Environmental Impact Statement, Volumes I and II (Multisale EIS, OCS EIS/EA MMS 2007-018); and on 2) Western Planning Area Sales 210, 215, and 218--Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Supplemental EIS, OCS EIS/EA MMS 2008-041).

No new significant impacts were identified for proposed Lease Sale 213 that were not already assessed in the Multisale EIS or in the Supplemental EIS. Consequently, MMS determined that an additional Supplemental EIS is not required and prepared a Finding of No New Significant Impact.

The public may submit comments to MMS on this EA/FONNSI by December 15, 2009.

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