[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 1 (Tuesday, January 3, 2006)]
[Pages 127-131]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-24659]



Minerals Management Service

Federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Administrative Boundaries 
Extending from the Submerged Lands Act Boundary seaward to the Limit of 
the United States Outer Continental Shelf

AGENCY: Minerals Management Service (MMS), Interior.

ACTION: Setting Federal OCS offshore administrative boundaries beyond 
State submerged lands for Department of the Interior planning, 
coordination, and administrative purposes.


SUMMARY: This notice informs the public that the MMS has developed 
offshore administrative lines from each adjoining coastal state as 
described below. Having these lines in place provides various benefits, 
    1. Enhancing the Secretary's ability to ensure that the ``4-C's''--
communication, consultation and cooperation, all in support of 
conservation--are considered as she engages in efforts to identify 
which State has the most interest in the extended area offshore from 
its coastline because of the increasing number of commercial activities 
on the Federal OCS, such as permits for liquefied natural gas 
facilities, wind power, and wave energy;
    2. Providing the basis for more accurate delineation of OCS 
planning areas;
    3. Assisting in ``affected State'' status under the Coastal Zone 
Management Act and the OCS Lands Act. For example, section 18 of the 
OCS Lands Act requires the Secretary to consider the ``laws, goals, and 
policies of affected States.'' Similarly, section 19 analysis requires 
the Secretary to balance national interests with the ``well-being of 
the citizens of the affected State'';
    4. Providing a more accurate basis for the Secretary to consider 
support for, or objections to, a State's request to analyze leasing off 
its shores. Without such administrative lines, it is difficult to 
define these areas accurately;
    5. Assisting in the section 18 comparative analysis to determine 
``an equitable sharing of developmental benefits and environmental 
risks among regions.'' Such lines will more accurately define the 
necessary assumptions of what are ``regions''; and
    6. Helping define appropriate consultation and information sharing 
with States. For example, section 19(e) authorizes cooperative 
agreement with affected States for such activities as information 
sharing, joint planning, review of plans, and environmental monitoring. 
This is even more important with the recent passage of the Energy 
Policy Act of 2005 which gave the MMS the authority to permit 
alternative and renewable energy projects on the OCS. Many of these 
projects will be located in areas in which the MMS has not recently 
been active.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Renee Orr, Chief, Leasing Division, 
telephone 703-787-1215.



    The MMS undertook this task in light of the increasing number and 
type of both traditional and non-traditional energy, alternative 
energy-related, and other activities on the OCS. Such activities 
include sand and gravel dredging; liquefied natural gas handling 
facilities; wind, wave, and current energy generation projects; and 
mariculture, as well as other innovative uses of the sea, seabed, 
existing oil and gas operations, and OCS oil and gas infrastructure 
that may be pursued in the future. Therefore, the MMS believes that it 
is appropriate to delineate offshore administrative lines at this time.


    Over the past two years, the MMS, National Ocean Service, and 
Department of State have been updating the National Baseline which 
provides the basis for developing international jurisdictions, such as 
the Territorial Sea, Contiguous Zone, and Exclusive Economic Zone, as 
well as a basis for the proposed boundaries seaward of the Submerged 
Lands Act state waters. We have used, to the extent practicable, the 
updated National Baseline to derive offshore administrative boundaries 
in compliance with accepted cartographic practice. The MMS has used the 
computational software known as CARIS LOTS ``Limits and Boundaries.'' 
One of the many features of this software is that it takes a 
predetermined baseline and determines boundaries for states with an 
equidistant line for states that are adjacent or a median line for 
opposite states, based on geodetic calculations. This software was

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specifically designed to meet international standards for calculating 
marine boundaries, including United Nations Convention on the Law of 
the Sea (UNCLOS) requirements.
    For this purpose, we applied the widely accepted and long standing 
principle of equidistance. An equidistance line is one for which every 
point on the line is equidistant from the nearest points on the 
baselines being used. The equidistance principle is a methodology that 
has been endorsed by the UNCLOS treaty, but predates the treaty and has 
been used by the Supreme Court of the United States, states, and 
nations to equitably establish boundaries.
    Early in its history, the U.S. used equidistance in the Act of 11 
February 1805, 2 Stat. 313, that divided public lands by measurements 
as close as possible to ``equidistant from those two corners which 
stand on the same line.''
    International law often refers to equidistance. Article 6 of the 
1958 Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf, ratified by the U.S. 
Senate on December 4, 1961, states:

    Where the same continental shelf is adjacent to the territories 
of two or more States whose coasts are opposite each other, the 
boundary of the continental shelf appertaining to such States shall 
be determined by agreement between them. In the absence of 
agreement, and unless another boundary line is justified by special 
circumstances, the boundary is the median line, every point of which 
is equidistant from the nearest points of the baselines from which 
the breadth of the territorial sea of each State is measured.

    Following U.S. ratification of the 1958 Geneva Convention, the 
Supreme Court has used equidistance to resolve disputes between states. 
In Texas v. Louisiana, the Court established a lateral boundary between 
Texas and Louisiana through the adoption of an equidistant line.
    More recently, Congress has recognized the equidistance principle 
in ratifying a maritime boundary between the U.S. and Mexico for an 
area in the Gulf of Mexico over 200 miles from each country known as 
the Western Gap. This was the third treaty between these countries 
based on the equidistance principle.
    The U.S. Baseline Committee has firmly established equidistance as 
the principle for domestic and international boundaries. The President 
formed the Committee in 1970 to resolve Federal baseline points from 
which to establish various jurisdictional and boundary issues, such as 
Federal/State boundary points and the extent of the territorial sea. 
The Committee has directed the Department of the Interior and all other 
agencies to apply this standard in dealings with coastal states and for 
international purposes.
    The utilization of the equidistance principle to draw 
administrative boundaries within areas that are in purely Federal 
waters is the best means of achieving accurate, fair, and equitable 
boundary lines extending from states. These lines will help the 
Secretary and MMS in a variety of internal planning and extended (4C's) 
coordination purposes.
    The extended equidistant lines extending from adjoining State 
baselines are depicted on the three maps that follow. More detailed 
information is available at the following Web site: www.mms.gov/ld/lateral.htm.

    Dated: December 22, 2005.
Johnnie Burton,
Director, Minerals Management Service.

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[FR Doc. 05-24659 Filed 12-30-05; 8:45 am]