||Avanti Corp., Vienna, VA.;Environmental Protection Agency, Seattle, WA. Region X.;Cadmus Group, Inc., Alexandria, VA.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 is proposing to issue a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit covering oil and gas exploration, development, and production activities in Cook Inlet and the Gulf of Alaska (Permit No. AKG285100). Under the consultation process of Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, EPA must conduct a biological evaluation to identify any potential risk to endangered or threatened species that may be affected by major permitting activities. This biological evaluation identifies and characterizes the endangered or threatened species found in or potentially affected by oil and gas activities in Cook Inlet and the Gulf of Alaska and assesses potential effects on these species resulting from discharges that are covered by the NPDES permit. This biological evaluation covers endangered species concerns for the NPDES general permit for Cook Inlet and the Gulf of Alaska. The permit authorizes oil and gas production and development facilities to discharge to state waters north of the Forelands in Upper Cook Inlet. The permit also authorizes oil and gas exploratory facilities to discharge to the state and Federal offshore and state inland coastal waters in Cook Inlet, Shelikof Strait, and the Gulf of Alaska. The southern boundary of Cook Inlet is defined by the line between Cape Douglas on the west and Port Chatham on the east. The following species have been identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services for consideration during the permitting process: Gray whale; Humpback whale; Fin whale; Sei whale; Beluga whale; Steller sea lion; American peregrine falcon; Arctic peregrine falcon; and Steller's eider. This evaluation characterizes the life history, habitat, range, feeding patterns, and migratory routes of these species of concern. Characterizations of the contents and volumes of the discharges covered by NPDES permit also are provided. Exposure and effects of discharges are discussed based on
published literature in order to assess potential effects from the discharges.