CRE Comments on NOAA/NMFS’ Draft Acoustic Guidance

CRE’s comments on NOAA/NMFS’ draft Acoustic Guidance included the following Executive Summary:

“There is no physical harm from oil and gas seismic as currently and historically regulated by NOAA/NMFS and by other U.S. Government agencies. With regard to PTS and TTS, NOAA/NMFS have correctly explained:

‘Researchers have studied TTS in certain captive odontocetes and pinnipeds  exposed to strong sounds (reviewed in Southall et al., 2007). However, there has  been no specific documentation of TTS let alone permanent hearing damage, i.e.,permanent threshold shift (PTS), in free-ranging marine mammals exposed to  sequences of airgun pulses during realistic field conditions.’[1]

NOAA/NMFS’ explanation is consistent with the Finneran controlled studies, which show no TTS in mid-frequency (“MF”) dolphins from low frequency (“LF”) seismic.

The draft Acoustic Guidance only applies to PTS and TTS, and seismic does not cause PTS and TTS “during realistic field conditions.” Consequently, there is no need to apply the new PTS and TTS criteria in the draft Acoustic Guidance to oil and gas seismic. If NOAA/NMFS do change the current criteria for seismic, then they should make those criteria less stringent because there is no evidence of harm.

The draft Acoustic Guidance should not be used for any sound source until and unless NOAA/NMFS change the Guidance to satisfy the Peer Review Report’s many criticisms of and objections to the Guidance.

NOAA/NMFS need to prepare and obtain Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) approval of a new Paperwork Reduction Act (“PRA”) Information Collection Request (“ICR”) before they can use the draft Acoustic Guidance for any sound source. This new ICR has to demonstrate that the Guidance complies with Information Quality Act (“IQA”) Guidelines.

NOAA/NMFS need to perform a cost benefit analysis of their draft Acoustic Guidance if they or any other agency intends to use it in rules or regulatory actions.”

Click here to read CRE’s comments.


[1] 79 FR  12160, 12165 (March 4, 2014), at .

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