CRE Responds to Enviro Comments on BOEM’s Draft 2017-2022 Plan EIS

On March 29, 2015, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed Comments on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s Notice of Intent to Prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Outer Continental Shelf 2017-2022 Proposed Oil and Gas Leasing Program, www.regulations.gov, Docket ID: BOEM-2014-0085.

The Executive Summary for CRE’s comments (footnotes omitted) reads as follows:

“I. Executive Summary

CRE’s comments respond to comments filed in this Docket by Ocean Conservation Research (‘Enviro Comments). These comments are typical of environmental groups’ attacks on BOEM’s OCS management, although more strident than most. In particular, the Enviro Comments make incorrect statements about the effects of oil and gas seismic on aquatic life, and irrationally attack BOEM’s regulation of those effects.

CRE Files Comments on Arctic ICRs

On March 25, 2015, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed comments with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget on Information Collection Requests 201404- 1014-004 and 201311-1010-003. These ICRs are part of the Arctic Drilling rules proposed by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Click here for CRE’s entire comments.

Their Executive Summary is set forth below (footnotes omitted).

NMFS Proposes IHA for Seismic Survey in Cook Inlet, Alaska

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has received a request from SAExploration Inc. for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to a proposed oil and gas exploration seismic survey program in Cook Inlet, Alaska between April 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS requests comments on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization to SAE to incidentally take marine mammals, by Level B harassment only, during the specified activity. Comments and information must be received by NMFS no later than April 20, 2015.

Click here for Federal Register notice of this proposed IHA.

NOAA/NMFS Schedule Second Peer Review and Public Comment Period for Acoustic Guidance

NOAA/NMFS has developed draft guidance for assessing the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine mammal species under their jurisdiction. This draft guidance has already been peer reviewed and subject to public comment once.

According to NOAA/NMFS:

“the U.S. Navy recently (January 2015) provided NOAA with a technical paper describing their proposed methodology for updating auditory weighting functions and subsequent numeric thresholds for predicting auditory effects (TTS/PTS thresholds) on marine animals exposed to active sonars and other active acoustic sources utilized during Navy training and testing activities.

BOEM Schedules Workshops for Atlantic Permitting

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has issued a Notice of Public Open House Informational Meetings for the Geological and Geophysical Permitting Process on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. The meetings will provide citizens an overview of the geological and geophysical permitting process and provide citizens an opportunity to learn and comment on BOEM’s geological and geophysical activities on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. BOEM will hold public open house informational meetings in March and April 2015. The open house meetings will demonstrate the G&G permitting process through a poster session.

The following public open house meetings are planned for the G&G permitting process:

BOEM’s Chief Environmental Officer Writes Again About Atlantic Seismic

In August 2014, CRE published an article by William Y. Brown, the Chief Environmental Officer of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. This article responded to environmental group attacks on BOEM’s Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (“PEIS”) for the Atlantic, which allows seismic exploration for oil and gas in some offshore areas. This article is available here. It corrects several misstatements by the environmental groups.

Dr. Brown has written another article on seismic. His second article further clarifies BOEM’s decision to allow seismic in some Atlantic offshore areas. In particular, he reiterates BOEM’s conclusion: “To date, there has been no documented scientific evidence of noise from air gun geological and geophysical (G&G) seismic activities adversely affecting animal populations.”

NMFS Publishes Regulations Governing Marine Corps Takes in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has published regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act governing the unintentional taking of marine mammals, incidental to training operations at the Brant Island Bombing Target (BT–9) and Piney Island Bombing Range (BT–11) located within the Marine Corps’ Cherry Point Range Complex in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina from March 2015 to March 2020. These regulations allow NMFS to issue a Letter of Authorization for the incidental take of marine mammals during the Marine Corps’ specified activities and timeframes, set forth the permissible methods of taking, set forth other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, and set forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of the incidental take.

Special Issue of Endangered Species Research on Anthropogenic Ocean Noise

ESR is publishing a special issue with the title “1st Century Paradigms for Measuring and Managing the Effects of Anthropogenic Ocean Noise.” The Journal’s website provides the following description of this special issue:

NMFS Seeks Comment on Shell Exploratory Drilling IHA for the Chukchi

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has received an application from Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to offshore exploration drilling on Outer Continental Shelf leases in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS requests comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to Shell to take, by Level B harassment only, 12 species of marine mammals during the specified activity. NMFS must receive any comments and information no later than April 3, 2015.

Click here to read NMFS’ Federal Register notice of this Shell IHA application.

Shell Requests IHA for Chukchi and Beaufort Overflight Surveys

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has received an application from Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. for an Incidental Harassment Authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to ice overflight surveys in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Alaska. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS requests comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to Shell to take, by Level B harassment only, seven species of marine mammals during the specified activity. NMFS must receive any comments and information no later than April 2, 2015.

Click here to read NMFS’ Federal Register notice of Shell’s IHA application.