A New Orleans federal district court has extended until December 5, 2019, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service’s deadline for publishing final Take rules for Marine Mammals in the Gulf of Mexico. These rules would be published under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. In their stipulated motion to the court, the parties to the case characterize this as an “interim” extension to allow for discussions that may culminate in a stipulated and presumably longer extension of the settlement agreement. Click here to read the parties’ motion for an extension, which the court granted.
Editor’s note: Marine Technology posted the above-titled article by Elaine Maslin. The article reads as follows:
“Since the earliest days of offshore oil and gas exploration, the need to “shoot” seismic surveys has been helping companies to find the hydrocarbons they can then produce.
Seismic data helps geophysicists and geologists understand the rock formations in the earth, what might be happening in them and, crucially, if they might contain oil and gas. Similar to acquiring seismic data onshore, it means emitting sound energy (a source) then detecting its return and interpreting that information to image the subsurface.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) Should Defer Final Take Rules for Oil and Gas Marine Mammal Take Authorizations in the Gulf of Mexico Until After Courts Decide Related Issues in Pending Litigation over NMFS’ Take Authorizations for Oil and Gas Exploration off the Atlantic Coast and Alaska
NMFS currently intends to publish final Marine Mammal Protection Act (“MMPA”) Rules for oil and gas geophysical surveys in the Gulf of Mexico by November 5, 2019 (“GOM Take Rules”). These GOM Take Rules were originally requested by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy management (“BOEM”). There is no legal deadline requiring this or any other publication date. No statute or settlement agreement requires NMFS to promulgate final GOM Take rules by this date. Oil and gas operations have been and will continue to be heavily regulated under OCSLA, NEPA and the ESA, which also protect marine mammals.
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued an incidental harassment authorization to the U.S. Office of Naval Research to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, marine mammals during Arctic Research Activities in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. ONR’s activities are considered military readiness activities pursuant to the MMPA, as amended by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 . This Authorization is effective from September 10, 2019 through September 9, 2020. It is issued under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Click here for more information and relevant links.
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has received a request from the U.S. Navy (Navy) to extend the time period from December 2023 to December 2025 for Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) regulations authorizing the take of marine mammals incidental to Navy training and testing activities conducted in the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing Study Area. NMFS has published Federal Register notice of its intent to grant the Navy’s request. NMFS’ notice reads in part as follows:
On September 4, 2019, Cook Inletkeeper and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit challenging NOAA/NMFS’ issuance of Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) “Take” rules for Hilcorp Alaska LLC’s offshore oil and gas operations in Cook Inlet, Alaska. The complaint alleges violations of the MMPA, NEPA, and the Endangered Species Act. The filed complaint is available here.
An International Association of Oil & Gas Producers website posted the above-titled article, which reads as follows:
“Sound and Marine Life Joint Industry Programme (JIP) recently sponsored the ‘Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life 2019 conference’, which took place in Den Haag in The Netherlands.
‘We were pleased to sponsor this conference as its key focus closely matches ours – scientific research into marine animals and potential effects of sound, and several of the JIP funded scientists presented their work,’ says Wendy Brown, IOGP Environment Director. ‘It provided us with the opportunity to promote a number of our recently published scientific research projects.’
Editor’s note: the International Association of Geophysical contractors published the above-titled article, which was originally published in the Bossier Press-Tribune. The article reads as follows:
“WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Mike Johnson (LA-04) reintroduced the Streamlining Environmental Approvals Act (SEA Act) to increase efficiency in the lengthy permit approval processes that have caused setbacks and delays for those working to preserve America’s rapidly deteriorating coastline, interrupted U.S. Naval operations and deterred offshore oil and gas exploration.
The bill reduces excessive government regulations developed over more than 45 years under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).
Various groups of plaintiffs challenged NOAA/NMFS’ issuance of Marine Mammal Protection Act Incidental Harassment Authorizations for oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic Ocean. The plaintiffs’ challenges were filed in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. The plaintiffs filed motions for preliminary injunctions against the Government. On August 26, 2019, the court entered an order denying all the preliminary injunction motions without prejudice to file again. The court dismissed the motions because the plaintiffs’ had not demonstrated imminent harm. In the court’s own words:
Editor’s note: Offshore Engineer posted the above-titled article, which reads as follows:
“Sentiment in the US offshore oil and gas industry is ‘generally upbeat’ heading into the nation’s next Gulf of Mexico lease sale, according to trade association National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA).
On Wednesday in New Orleans, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will offer 77.8 million acres for a region-wide lease sale, including all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.