The U.S. Coast Guard and Maritime Administration announced today that they are revising an environmental impact statement to lower estimates for potential impacts to red drum and other fish species of concern due to a proposed Shell USA Oil and Gas liquefied natural gas deepwater port facility in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Coast Guard identified a calculation error after the original environmental impact statement was published that had erroneously placed the potential annual impact to red drum as equivalent to 8.5 percent of the 2002 Gulf of Mexico commercial and recreational harvest. The revision states that the proposed "Gulf Landing" facility could annually cause the death of eggs and larvae equivalent to 0.8 percent of the 2002 harvest of red drum had they grown to harvestable size. The revised percentage is in comparison to the red drum harvest, not the entire fish stock, and does not predict direct losses to the fish harvest. Other species studied included red snapper, Gulf menhaden and Bay anchovy, which were found to have impacts of 0.01 percent or less of the 2002 harvest or equivalent.
"It is unfortunate that the error wasn’t discovered prior to the release of the final environmental impact statement," said Mark Prescott, chief of the Coast Guard’s deepwater port standards division. "We realize some may feel that even these lower values are too high, but it is important that opinions and decisions are based on the best possible and most accurate information attainable."
Fish larvae and eggs would be impacted by the facility’s regasification system that warms the liquefied gas from negative 260 degrees Fahrenheit to its natural state for pipeline transport to shore. Larger fish will likely be able to escape the system, either because of screens on the intakes or the fish’s ability to swim away from the pumps that feed the system.
The actual changes to the final environmental impact statement have been submitted for publication in the Federal Register, and can be viewed when published at the Department of Transportation’s docket management system website (http://dms.dot.gov/search) using docket number 16860.