[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 6 (Thursday, January 9, 2014)]
[Pages 1643-1644]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-00156]



[FRL-9905-23-Region 9]

Reissuance of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System 
(NPDES) General Permit for Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration, 
Development and Production Operations Off Southern California

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of availability of final NPDES general permit.


SUMMARY: EPA Region 9 is today publishing this notice of availability 
of its final general NPDES permit (permit No. CAG280000) for discharges 
from offshore oil and gas exploration, development and production 
facilities located in Federal waters off the coast of Southern 
California. The general permit establishes effluent limitations, 
prohibitions, and other conditions for discharges from facilities that 
engage in such operations within the geographic coverage area of the 
general permit. The general permit applies to 23 existing development 
and production platforms as well as to any new exploratory drilling 
operations located in and discharging to the specified lease blocks on 
the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf covered by the permit. The new 
general permit replaces the previous general permit issued on September 
22, 2004 (69 FR 56761).

DATES: For purposes of judicial review the permit is considered issued 
on January 23, 2014. The final permit was signed on December 20, 2013 
and is effective on March 1, 2014.

ADDRESSES: The final general permit and other related documents in the 
administrative record are on file and may be inspected any time between 
8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal 
holidays, at the following address: U.S. EPA, Region 9, NPDES Permits 
Office (WTR-5), 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-3901.

Permits Office (WTR-5), 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, California 
94105-3901, or telephone (415) 972-3510. Copies of the final general 
permit, Addendum to Fact Sheet and the Response to Public Comments will 
be provided upon request and are also available at EPA, Region 9's Web 
site at: http://www.epa.gov/region9/water/npdes/permits.html.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Public notice of Region 9's tentative 
decision to issue the permit was published in the Federal Register on 
December 20, 2012 (77 FR 75429), and in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 
December 19, 2012. The public comment period closed on February 4, 
2013. Region 9 received written comments from eight parties concerning 
the proposed permit. Region 9 prepared a separate document (Response to 
Public Comments) which discusses these comments in more detail and 
Region 9's responses to the comments.
    For the most part, the final permit is very similar to the permit 
proposed in December 2012. However, the monitoring requirements for 
produced water discharges were revised based on public comments and 
also discussions between Region 9 and California Coastal Commission 
(CCC) staff concerning Region 9's consistency determination for the 
permit pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). Region 9 
also added a requirement to maintain an inventory of the chemicals used 
to formulate well treatment, completion and workover fluids, and if 
there is a discharge of the fluids, to report the chemical formulation 
with the quarterly discharge monitoring report. This requirement was 
added in response to recent concerns regarding the potential effects of 
discharges of fluids used for offshore hydraulic fracturing operations.
    The final permit also includes a number of technical corrections 
and other relatively minor revisions based on public comment or other 
sources. These revisions are discussed in more detail in the Response 
to Public Comments and the final Addendum to Fact Sheet.

[[Page 1644]]

    B. Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA and its implementing 
regulations (50 CFR Part 402) require EPA to ensure, in consultation 
with the Secretary of the Interior or Commerce, that any action 
authorized, funded or carried out by EPA is not likely to jeopardize 
the continued existence of any threatened or endangered species or 
adversely affect its critical habitat.
    For the 2004 permit, Region 9 concluded that the authorized 
discharges would not affect listed species or critical habitat for the 
species. For the general permit reissuance, Region 9 reconsidered this 
matter, but again concluded that the discharges would not affect such 
species. Region 9 also forwarded the draft permit and fact sheet to the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine 
Fisheries Service (NMFS) for review and comment on Region 9's 
conclusion, but no comments were received.
    C. Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). The CZMA provides that a 
Federal license or permit for activities affecting the coastal zone of 
a state may not be granted until a state with an approved Coastal 
Management Plan (CMP) concurs that the activities authorized by the 
permit are consistent with the CMP. In California, the CZMA authority 
is the CCC.
    In accordance with the requirements of the CZMA and its 
implementing regulations at 15 CFR Part 930, Region 9 submitted a 
consistency determination for the draft permit to the CCC in a letter 
dated December 20, 2012. Region 9 and CCC staff also met in spring 2013 
to discuss the permit and conditions necessary to ensure consistency 
with the CMP. Based on those discussions, Region 9 submitted an amended 
consistency determination in a letter dated May 2, 2013. At a public 
meeting held on June 12, 2013, the CCC concurred with Region 9's 
consistency determination.
    D.  Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The 
1996 amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and 
Management Act set forth a number of new mandates for NMFS, regional 
fishery management councils, and Federal agencies to identify and 
protect important marine and anadromous fish habitat. Regional fishery 
management councils, with assistance from NMFS, are required to 
delineate essential fish habitat (EFH).
    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that Federal agencies consult 
with NMFS on all actions undertaken by the agency which may adversely 
affect EFH. For the 2004 general permit, EPA concluded that the 
discharges would not have a significant adverse effect on EFH. After a 
consultation was held regarding the 2004 permit, NMFS concurred with 
Region 9's conclusion.
    For the general permit reissuance, Region 9 reconsidered the 
effects of the discharges on EFH, but again concluded that the 
discharges would not have a significant adverse effect on EFH. The 
draft permit and fact sheet were forwarded to NMFS for review and 
comment on Region 9's conclusion, but no comments were received.
    E. Permit Appeal Procedures. Within 120 days following the date the 
permit is considered issued for purposes of judicial review, any 
interested person may appeal the permit decision in the Federal Court 
of Appeals in accordance with Section 509(b)(1) of the CWA. Persons 
affected by a general permit may not challenge the conditions of a 
general permit as a right in further Agency proceedings. They may 
instead either challenge the general permit in court, or apply for an 
individual permit as specified at 40 CFR 122.21 (and authorized at 40 
CFR 122.28), and then petition the Environmental Appeals Board to 
review any condition of the individual permit (40 CFR 124.19).
    F. Regulatory Flexibility Act. The Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 
U.S.C. 601 et seq, requires that EPA prepare a regulatory flexibility 
analysis for regulations that have a significant impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. The permit issued today is not a 
``rule'' subject to the Regulatory Flexibility Act. EPA prepared a 
regulatory flexibility analysis, however, on the promulgation of the 
Offshore Subcategory guidelines on which many of the permit's effluent 
limitations are based. That analysis has shown that issuance of this 
permit would not have a significant impact on a substantial number of 
small entities.
    G. Paperwork Reduction Act. The information collection required by 
this final permit has been approved by Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 
3501 et. seq., in submissions made for the NPDES permit program and 
assigned OMB control numbers 2040-0086 (NPDES permit application) and 
2040-0004 (discharge monitoring reports).

    Authority: Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.

    Dated: December 20, 2013.
Jane Diamond,
Director, Water Division, EPA Region 9.
[FR Doc. 2014-00156 Filed 1-8-14; 8:45 am]