Seismic Research Permitting Failures Needs To Be Addressed By Legislation, House Committee Says

“The House Natural Resources Committee probed how issues with offshore seismic research permitting can hinder oil and natural gas development on the outer continental shelf during a subcommittee hearing on Friday.

The federal permitting process for geological and geophysical (G&G) surveying that spans multiple federal agencies and the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources explored how it could be hindering research and development.

Walter Cruickshank, acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM), testified that “critically important” geological and geophysical data does more than support oil and gas development. It also impacts renewable energy, coastal restoration, and planning for natural disasters, he said.

MMC Report on PAM

The Marine Mammal Commission’s “Report of the Joint Marine Mammal Commission – National Marine Fisheries Service Passive Acoustic Surveying Workshop” is available.  This workshop was intended to help the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service perform marine mammal stock assessments.  The workshop report’s executive summary explains in part:

“The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is responsible for gathering the information needed to support its stock assessments of marine mammals. The distribution and abundance of each stock is the core of those assessments. Data to support stock assessments are traditionally gathered by conducting visual observations during shipboard and/or aerial surveys.Increasingly, however, the agency is having difficulty providing abundance estimates and other data needed for marine mammal stock assessments. These challenges have spurred NMFS to increase its investment in alternative monitoring methods that may fill some critical data gaps more effectively and efficiently than large-scale ship and aerial surveys alone.

Troubling Permitting Lapse

The International Association of Geophysical Contractors posted the following article on the IAGC website:

“Both the National Marine Fisheries Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service need to better explain how they conduct incidental harassment authorization reviews for offshore oil and gas geologic and geophysical surveys to meet the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s 120-day deadline, the Government Accountability Office said in a report issued on Jan. 4.

Bill to Ease Offshore Oil, Gas Exploration Advances in Congress

The International Association of Geophysical Contractors posted the following article on the IAGC website:

“Legislation by U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Benton, to ease oil and gas exploration in offshore waters advanced in Congress this week. The Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday (Jan. 10) endorsed Johnson’s would-be Streamlining Environmental Approvals Act of 2017, sending it to the full House.

Johnson casts the bill as one to ‘cut government red tape’ and help Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts. He said it ‘reduces duplicative government regulations in the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act, while maintaining marine mammal protections and setting firm permitting deadlines for coastal initiatives.

Florida Exempted from Offshore Oil and Gas Expansion

After announcing an expansion of offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the Trump administration will grant an exception for the state of Florida. Sec. Zinke stated:

“I have witnessed [Florida] Governor Scott’s leadership through hurricane season and am working closely with him on Everglades restoration. He is a straightforward leader that can be trusted. President Trump has directed me to rebuild our offshore oil and gas program in a manner that supports our national energy policy and also takes into consideration the local and state voice. I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver. As a result of discussion with Governor Scott’s [sic] and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.”

Public Meetings on Draft Proposed Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program


The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has released a Draft Proposed Program for the 2019–2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. Comments on the draft are due March 19. BOEM will also host a series of 23 public meetings on the National OCS Program in cities around the nation, January 16 – February 28.

GAO Report on Offshore Oil Seismic Surveys

The U.S. Government Accountability Office published a report entitled Offshore Seismic Surveys:  Additional Guidance Needed to Help Ensure Timely Reviews.  This report recommended that the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service develop guidance clarifying how and when staff should record review dates of incidental take authorization applications and analyze how long the reviews take.

Click here to read the report.



CRE Requests that UN Act to Ensure that CMS Marine Noise Guidelines Comply with Fundamental Principles of Science

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness sent a letter to the UN’s Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.  CRE’s letter concerned

CMS’ Family Guidelines on Environmental Impact Assessment for Marine Noise-generating Activities Guidelines (“EIA Guidelines”).  CRE’s letter requests that CMS take certain activities necessary to ensure that the EIA Guidelines are transparent and comply with other fundamental principles of the scientific process. These steps include CMS’ establishing and publicizing an easily accessible Internet website dedicated to and containing the following:

A) All comments on the EIA Guidelines and all responses to those comments (including all responses to CRE’s letter);