Article on Uncertainties in Atlantic Seismic Permitting

Bloomberg BNA published an article entitled “Atlantic Seismic Surveys May Get Permits But Await Action.” This article begins as follows:

“Six companies are hoping to get permits to conduct seismic surveys in the U.S. Atlantic offshore as a step toward identifying the most promising places to drill for oil or natural gas.

The Trump administration is supportive of the seismic work, but uncertainty remains over whether the surveys actually will be conducted. No lease sales for exploration drilling have been scheduled for the Outer Continental Shelf in the Atlantic, and without the prospect of lease sales, the service companies that do the seismic work may be unable to find clients among oil companies to finance the surveys.

BOEM Publishes Record of Decision for Cook Inlet Planning Area Lease Sale

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published its Record of Decision for the Cook Inlet Planning Area, Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Lease Sale 244 (Lease Sale 244). This Record of Decision identifies the Bureau’s selected alternative for holding Lease Sale 244, which is analyzed in the Alaska OCS: Cook Inlet Planning Area Oil and Gas Lease Sale 244 in the Cook Inlet, Alaska; Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) (OCS/EIS EA BOEM 2016-069). The Record of Decision and associated information are available on BOEM’s website here.

NMFS Uses Acoustic Guidance In Another IHA

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed issuance of an incidental harassment authorization to incidentally take marine mammals from Quintillion Subsea Operations,LLC, during subsea cable-laying and maintenance activities in the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi seas. This IHA would be issued under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. NMFS must receive any comments and information on this proposed IHA no later than June 12, 2017.

In this IHA, NMFS continues to require use of its new Acoustic Guidance.

Click here for more details and relevant links.

Arctic Council Meets

The Associated press distributed an article entitled “Arctic Council to meet amid drilling concerns.” The entire article is available here. It begins as follows:

“Fairbanks, Alaska — High-level officials from the world’s eight Arctic nations will meet in Alaska amid concerns about the future of the sensitive region after President Donald Trump called for more oil drilling and development.

Among those expected to attend the meeting of the Arctic Council beginning Thursday in Fairbanks are U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who met Wednesday with Trump and Tillerson in Washington.

Interior Acts to Open Up and Expedite Atlantic and Arctic Oil and Gas Leasing

The Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior has signed and published Order 3550, which

“implements the President’s Executive Order entitled: ‘implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy’ (April 28, 2017); enhances opportunities for energy exploration, leasing, and development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS); establishes regulatory certainty for OCS activities; and enhances conservation stewardship, thereby providing jobs, energy security, and revenue for the American people.”

The Secretary’s Order takes a number of steps to expedite offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction. These steps include ordering the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to:

NMFS Proposes Another IHA that Violates Executive Order on Offshore Energy Strategy

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issuance of another Incidental Harassment Authorization that uses NMFS’ new Acoustic Guidance, in violation of Section 10 of President Trump’s Executive Order Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.

NMFS proposes to issue this IHA under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. It would authorize the Washington State Department of Transportation to take marine mammals incidental to the Mukilteo Multimodal Construction Project in Washington State. NMFS must receive any comments and information on this proposed IHA no later than June 9, 2017. Click here for more details and relevant links.

Enviros Sue Over Executive Order Reopening Atlantic and Arctic to Offshore Oil and Gas

Several environmental groups have filed suit in Alaska federal district court over President Trump’s Executive Order opening up the Arctic and Atlantic to offshore oil and gas.  The complaint they filed in court is available here.

NMFS Proposes IHAs that Violate Executive Order on Offshore Energy Strategy

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed issuance of two Incidental Harassment Authorizations that use NMFS’ new Acoustic Guidance, in violation of Section 10 of President Trump’s Executive Order Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.

NMFS proposes to issue both these IHAs under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. The first IHA would authorize the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron to take marine mammals incidental to Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program activities in the Barking Sands Underwater Range Expansion area of the Pacific Missile Range Facility off Kauai, Hawaii, for the period of August 23, 2017, through August 22, 2022.  NMFS must receive any comments on this proposed IHA no later than June 5, 2017. Click here to read more about this proposed Air Force IHA.

Presidential Executive Order Requires Commerce Secretary to Rescind or Revise NMFS’ New Acoustic Guidance, if Appropriate after Review

On April 28, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order entitled “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.” This Order states that

“It shall be the policy of the United States to encourage energy exploration and production, including on the Outer Continental Shelf, in order to maintain the Nation’s position as a global energy leader and foster energy security and resilience for the benefit of the American people, while ensuring that any such activity is safe and environmentally responsible.”

The Order requires several federal agency actions to implement this policy. These actions include the Secretary of the Department of Commerce taking “all steps necessary to rescind or revise” NMFS’ new Acoustic Guidance, “if appropriate.”

Navy Sonar Take Rules

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has received a request from the U.S. Navy for authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to conducting operations of Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active (LFA) sonar in areas of the world’s oceans (with the exception of Arctic and Antarctic waters and certain geographic restrictions), from August 15, 2017, through August 14, 2022.

The Navy’s activities are considered military readiness activities pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), as amended by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004. Pursuant to the MMPA, NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue regulations to govern the incidental take of marine mammals by Level B harassment during the specified activity.