As required by section 117(d) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act the Secretary of Commerce has established three independent regional scientific review groups to provide advice on a range of marine mammal science and management issues. NMFS has conducted a membership review of the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific SRGs, and is soliciting nominations for new members to fill vacancies and gaps in expertise.
The U.S. Department of the Interior has requested comments on how Interior can improve implementation of regulatory reform initiatives and policies and identify regulations for repeal, replacement, or modification. In its document requesting comments, Interior also provides an overview of Interior’s approach for implementing the regulatory reform initiative to alleviate unnecessary burdens placed on the American people, which was established by President Trump in Executive Order (E.O.) 13777, ‘‘Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda.’’
There are no deadlines for the receipt of comments on this effort. Interior will review comments on an ongoing basis.
The International association of Geophysical contractors recently posted the following article
“You can’t find what you can’t see — Seismic surveys shine a light on Atlantic oil
BY ROGER KEYTE, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR – 06/15/17 08:00 AM EDT 8
It has been more than 30 years since the last seismic surveys were taken of the outer continental shelf of the Atlantic seaboard. The estimates we currently have for how much oil and natural gas may lie beneath those waters leave much to be desired. It’s past time — in the spirit of exploring the unknown and for ensuring our energy security — we conduct new surveys to understand just what resources we potentially have within reach.
The International Association of Geophysical Contractors recently published the following article:
“Advancing the Science of Sound and Marine Life
Editorial by Gary H. Isaksen
ExxonMobile Exploration Company
Manager, Global Ocean Science & Policy
Manager, Arctic Science & Policy
Our oceans host a variety of sounds. Some are generated from natural sources, such as breaking waves, plate tectonics, ice calving, whales, fish (e.g., croaker), and crustaceans (e.g., snapping and mantis shrimp). Other sounds are generated from human activities, such as vessel traffic, seismic surveys, pile driving, wind turbines, sea-bottom trawling, echo-sounders, and sonar.
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service MFS has received five requests for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to conducting geophysical survey activity in the Atlantic Ocean. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS requests comments on its proposal to issue incidental harassment authorizations to incidentally take marine mammals during the specified activities. NMFS must receive any Comments and information must be received no later than July 6, 2017. Click here to read Federal Register notice of this proposed action.
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service seeks public comment to assist the Secretary of Commerce’s review of NMFS’ August 2016 Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing: Underwater Acoustic Thresholds for Onset of Permanent and Temporary Threshold Shifts. The Commerce Secretary will be reviewing the Technical Guidance pursuant to section 10 of Presidential Executive Order 13795, Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy (April 28, 2017). Comments must be received by NMFS on or before July 17, 2017. Click here for more information and relevant links.
On June 5, 2017, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed comments with the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service on NMFS’ Proposed Regulations Governing Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron Conducting Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii, 86 FR 21156 (May 5, 2017),
CRE’s comments included the following and other points.
- NMFS use of the Acoustic Guidance conflicts with Section 10 of Executive Order 13795.
- NMFS does not have an OMB-approved ICR for the Acoustic Guidance
On June 1, 2017, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed comments with NMFS on the Service’s proposed issuance of an Incidental harassment authorization for Ocean Wind, LLC. This proposed IHA would authorize Ocean Wind to take marine mammals incidental to geophysical and geotechnical activities associated with marine site characterization surveys off the coast of New Jersey.
CRE’s comments do not oppose NMFS’ issuance of this proposed IHA. CRE’s comments do, however, oppose NMFS’ use of its new Acoustic Guidance in this IHA and for any other purpose. As explained in CRE’s comments, CRE’s opposition to Acoustic Guidance use is based on the following and other grounds.
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.
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.