U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Mississippi oil development subject to new environmental impact assessment

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The US Department of Energy (DOE) has just announced plans to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) expansion site in Richton, MS.  This supplemental study will consider whether to select a new location for new petroleum reserve’s raw water intake structure from the Leaf River to an alternate location with greater water availability.  The SEIS will also evaluate alternate locations for the oil terminal in Pascagoula and if needed, the brine disposal pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico with the goal of reducing potential environmental impacts and accommodating local economic development goals.  Today’s announcement is the result of consultation with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other governmental entities over the past year since the Richton location was selected for expansion in February 2007.

DOE also plans to include in the SEIS a floodplain assessment and a wetland assessment prepared in accordance with Federal regulations to evaluate the environmental impacts of potential sites for the raw water intake structure, oil terminals, and pipelines.

The Department’s Notice of Intent published today in the Federal Register aims to solicit public input for consideration in the preparation of the SEIS.  DOE will hold three public meetings in three counties in Mississippi next month and evaluate all public comments received during the public scoping period, which begins today and will continue through April 29, 2008.  DOE invites interested agencies, organizations, Native American tribes, and members of the public to submit comments or suggestions to assist in identifying alternatives, significant environmental issues, and the appropriate scope of the EIS.  Written and oral comments will be given equal weight and all comments will be evaluated.

Public meetings are scheduled as follows:

April 8, 2008; 2PM to 8PM; Green County High School, 4336 High School Road, Leakesville, MS (Greene County)
April 9, 2008; 2PM to 8PM; George County Senior Center, 7102 Hwy. 198 E., Lucedale, MS (George County)
April 10, 2008; 2PM to 8PM; B.E. Mac McGinty Civic Center, 2902 Shortcut Road, Pascagoula, MS (Jackson County)

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 required DOE to expand the Strategic Petroleum Reserve from its current 727 million barrel capacity to 1 billion barrels.  To fulfill the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act for the expansion project, DOE prepared an environmental impact statement in 2006 to analyze potential environmental impacts associated with expansion of the SPR at various candidate sites.  On February 14, 2007, Secretary Bodman signed a Record of Decision announcing the selection of Richton, MS, as the location of a new SPR facility as part of the expansion project.  The site was selected for its large and undeveloped salt dome, enhanced oil distribution capabilities, and inland location that is less vulnerable to the damaging effects of hurricanes.

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