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.
Nevertheless, the proposed Bryde’s Whale Listing Rule labels “anthropogenic noise associated with seismic surveys as a ‘high’ severity threat with ‘moderate’ certainty.” This score is inaccurate, unreliable and misleading for the following and other reasons:
A) Based on NMFS’ ambient noise sampling, Bryde’s whales are not exposed to any harmful noise levels. Ambient noise levels are well below the historic seismic regulatory level of 180 and 160 dB, and well below NMFS’ new Acoustic Guidance levels.
B) Regulation of oil and gas seismic under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (“MMPA”) and the Outer Continental Shelf lands Act (“OCSLA”) already protects Bryde’s whales and other marine mammals from harm.
C) BOEM and NMFS have repeatedly emphasized that oil and gas seismic has not harmed any marine mammal population in the GOM.
D) The proposed Bryde’s Whale Listing Rule relies on inaccurate, unreliable and unvalidated models that are inconsistent with field data and violate the Information Quality Act (“IQA”). The proposed Rule also violates OMB’s Peer Review Bulletin.
NMFS should withdraw its proposed Bryde’s Whale Listing Rule. NMFS should propose new action on the listing petition that is consistent with CRE’s comments above and below, but only after conducting additional external peer review that complies with OMB’s Peer Review Bulletin. NMFS should provide the public an opportunity to comment to the peer reviewers during this additional review.”