NMFS Responds to NRDC’s Attacks on Cook Inlet Seismic IHA

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization in response to a request from SAExploration Inc. for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to an oil and gas exploration seismic survey program in Cook Inlet, Alaska between May 13, 2015 and May 12, 2016. This IHA is effective May 13, 2015 through May 12, 2016.

The Natural Resources Defense Council filed comments attacked the proposed IHA. Click here for NMFS’ response to NRDC’s comments and for Federal Register notice of this action.

NMFS Issues IHA for New Zealand Seismic

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography on behalf of SIO and the U.S. National Science Foundation, to take marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to conducting a low-energy marine geophysical (seismic) survey in the Southwest Pacific Ocean, East of New Zealand, May to June 2015. This IHA is effective May 18, 2015 to July 30, 2015

NMFS has also issued a Biological Opinion under section 7 of the U.S. Endangered Species Act to evaluate the effects of the low energy seismic survey and IHA on marine species listed as threatened or endangered. The NMFS Biological Opinion is available online at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/consultations/opinion.htm.

NMFS Seeks Comment on Seismic IHA for the Beaufort

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service proposes to issue to Hilcorp Alaska, LLC. an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to a shallow geohazard survey in the Beaufort Sea, Alaska., pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act. NMFS requests comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to Hilcorp to take, by Level B harassment only, 6 species of marine mammals during the specified activity. NMFS must receive any comments and information on this proposed IHA no later than June 15, 2015.

Click here for NMFS’ Federal Register notice of this proposed IHA, which provides more information on it.

BSEE Director Speaks to International Meeting on Deepwater Regulation

On May 6, 2015, U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Brian Salerno joined Alfonso Zegbe, of the Mexican regulator Agencia de Seguridad Energetica y Ambiental, Anne Myhrvold of the Norweigan regulator Petroleum Safety Authority Norway and Marcelo Mafra Borges de Macedo of the Brazilian regulator ANP for a conversation on deepwater regulations. Director Salerno discussed risk, new regulations and BSEE’s focus for the coming years. Director Salerno’s written remarks are available here.

OMB Sends ESA Takes ICR to OMB for Review

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has submitted to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act: Permits for Incidental Taking of Endangered or Threatened Species. OMB Control Number: 0648–0230. This request is for extension of a currently approved information collection.

FWS and NMFS Amend ESA Section 7 Take Rules

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service have published final rules amending the incidental take statement provisions of the implementing regulations for section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The two primary purposes of these amendments are to address the use of surrogates to express the amount or extent of anticipated incidental take and to refine the basis for development of incidental take statements for programmatic actions. These changes are intended to improve the clarity and effectiveness of incidental take statements. The final rules are effective on June 10, 2015.

BOEM to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Proposed Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sales for 2017-2022

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management proposes to conduct ten oil and gas lease sales in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico as outlined in the 2017-2022 Draft Proposed Leasing Program. In support of these sales, BOEM has published its Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. This NOI seeks input on the scope of the 2017-2022 GOM Multi-sale EIS for these ten proposed GOM Lease Sales. These sales will not be held unless they are included in the 2017-2022 Final Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. However, as some sales are tentatively scheduled to take place in 2017 and 2018, the BOEM must initiate preparation of the EIS before the 2017-2022 Five Year Program is finalized.

BSEE Participates in Arctic Offshore Regulators Forum Meeting in Washington

During the week of April 27, 2015, representatives from regulatory authorities from six Arctic states gathered in the Main Interior Building’s historic North Penthouse to participate in the Inaugural Meeting of the Arctic Offshore Regulators Forum (AORF). The AORF, which addresses a specific recommendation of the Arctic Council’s Task Force on Arctic Marine Oil Pollution Prevention, is an Arctic forum of technical and operational offshore petroleum safety regulators whose members are dedicated to the common cause of continually improving offshore safety outcomes. Its primary scope is the exchange of information, best practices and relevant experiences learned from regulatory efforts related to developing petroleum resources in the Arctic Regions of the globe.