Industry sees opening to revamp species protection law

The International Association of Geophysical Contractors published the following article:

“Industry sees opening to revamp species protection law

Emily Yehle, E&E News reporter
Published: Friday, February 3, 2017

About 30 baleen whales live year-round in an underwater canyon off the Florida Panhandle, in an area of the Gulf of Mexico that is currently off-limits to oil and gas activity but could be reopened in 2022.

The subspecies of Bryde’s whale may be the most endangered whale in the world, and right now, one U.S. law prohibits companies and agencies from killing or harassing them: the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

NMFS Issues Pile Driving IHA for Kodiak Using New Acoustic Guidance

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued an incidental harassment authorization to the City of Kodiak to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, marine mammals during construction activities associated with pile driving
and removal and down hole drilling activities in Kodiak, Alaska. NMFS has issued this IHA under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This Authorization is effective from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017.

NMFS used its new Acoustic Guidance in issuing this IHA.

Click here for more information and relevant links.

NMFS Issues Elgin force Base IHA Using New Acoustic Guidance

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to the U.S. Air Force, Eglin Air Force Base to take two species of marine mammals, the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin and Atlantic spotted dolphin, by harassment, incidental to a Maritime Weapon Systems Evaluation Program within the Eglin Gulf Test and Training Range in the Gulf of Mexico from February 4, 2017 through February 3, 2018. NMFS issued this IHA under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This Authorization is effective from February 4, 2017, through February 3, 2018.

NMFS used its new Acoustic Guidance in issuing this IHA.

NMFS Extends Comment Deadline for Bryde’s Whale Proposed ESA Listing

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed to list the Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whale as an endangered species under the U.S Endangered Species Act.   NMFS has extended the deadline for commenting on this proposed ESA listing to February 23, 2017.  Click here to read NMFS’ Federal Register notice of this proposed action.

CRE Comments on Proposed Bryde’s Whale ESA Listing

On February 6, 2017, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed comments on the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Notice of 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List the Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s Whale as Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act. CRE’s comments included the following Executive Summary (footnotes omitted):
“The Bryde’s whale is thriving all over the world. There is no evidence that they are declining in the GOM. NMFS has not identified a single Bryde’s whale that has actually been injured by oil and gas seismic, or by any other oil and gas activity in the GOM.

IAGC Publishes Article on Trump Administration and Energy

The International Association of Geophysical Contractors published the following article, which was originally posted here.

Trump Immediately Makes Whitehouse.Gov Pro-Energy

Just hours after his inauguration, United States President Donald J. Trump has already started implementing changes on WhiteHouse.gov making it pro-energy. In addition to making America great again, Trump also wants to make American energy great again by eliminating “burdensome regulations.” A move he says will increase American wages by more than $30 billion over 7 years.

Below is a reprint of President Trump’s stated goals for American Energy on WhiteHouse.gov.

Marine Acoustics and Regulation Seminar

Seiche Ltd has distributed the following regarding a seminar on marine acoustics and regulation:

“We have an opportunity for you to discover the latest developments in marine acoustics and will help you understand the how noise impacts marine wildlife and get to grips with the regulations aimed at protecting our natural environment. Our four-day Marine Acoustics course is perfect for anyone working as a regulator, environmental consultant, researcher, policy or environmental professional who needs to understand the regulatory environment. It will give you the knowledge you need to analyse and act on the recommendations in reports generated as a result of environmental legislation.

New White House Memorandum on Regulatory Freeze Pending Review

Mr. Reince Priebus, Assistant to the U.S. President and Chief of Staff, has sent a Memorandum dated January 20, 2017, to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies. This Memorandum is entitled Regulatory Freeze Pending Review. It states that

“The President has asked me to communicate to each of you his plan for managing the Federal regulatory process at the outset of his Administration. In order to ensure that the President’s appointees or designees have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations, I ask on behalf of the President that you immediately take the following steps….”

CRE Comments on BOEM’s Revised Application for GOM Take Rules

On January 23, 2017, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed comment with the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service on the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s revised application to NMFS for marine mammal take rules for oil and gas Geological and Geophysical operations in the Gulf of Mexico. CRE’s comments included the following Executive Summary:

The Revised Application violates the Information Quality Act Guidelines (“IQA”).  These IQA violations include but are not limited to BOEM and NMFS’ admitted use of unvalidated, inaccurate and unreliable models to estimate Takes. This use of indisputably bad models results in inaccurate, unreliable and grossly exaggerated Take estimates.

BOEM Publishes ROD for 2017-2022 OCS Leasing Program

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published its Final Record of Decision for the 2017–2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program Final Programmatic EIS.

The ROD schedules 10 sales in the Gulf of Mexico, and 1 sale in Cook Inlet Alaska., staggered over the next five years.

BOEM is directed to “analyze a seasonal restriction on seismic surveys and exploration drilling for Cook Inlet Lease Sale 258.” The ROD also adopts the protection of Biologically Sensitive Underwater Features in the GOM, and the Alaska Conflict Management Plan in the Cook Inlet.