A notice of availability of the draft EIS was scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on July 22, opening a 45-day public comment period.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management also has scheduled meetings in Anchorage on Aug. 15, Homer on Aug. 17, and Kenai/Soldotna on Aug. 18.
The draft EIS and directions for providing public comment online are available at www.boem.gov/ak244/
While recognizing that interest in exploration and development in Cook Inlet may be limited at this time, BOEM officials said they were conducting the necessary environmental review to aid in decision on whether or how to proceed with lease sale 244, currently scheduled for June 2017.
The draft EIS analyzes important environmental resources, commercial fishing of Pacific salmon and halibut, subsistence activities, sea otter and beluga whale populations, and more that currently exist within the Cook Inlet planning area, and identifies robust mitigation measures to be considered in leasing the area. The draft EIS also analyzes a range of alternatives to be considered for leasing.
Abigail Ross Hopper, BOEM’s director said that while Cook Inlet has oil and gas potential, there are sensitive marine and coastal resources that Alaska Native communities depend on for subsistence.
Once the EIS is finalized, the Department of the Interior will then make its decision on whether to hold the lease sale.