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.”

Dr. Brown then briefly explains that BOEM’s conclusion “refers to effects on population sustainability, rather than effects on individual animals.” He supports BOEM’s conclusion by pointing out that

“because of its abundance, the bottlenose dolphin heads the class in number of potential exposures to air gun sound levels with potential effects on behavior. Yet Federal stock assessments for the dolphin do not identify air gun seismic surveys as adversely impacting stock sustainability in the Gulf of Mexico, where air gun surveys are routine.”

Dr. Brown further notes that

“one web posting states that ‘Seismic air gun testing currently being proposed in the Atlantic will injure 138,000 whales and dolphins and disturb millions more, according to government estimates.’ This characterization of our conclusion, however, is not accurate; that is actually not what we estimate. “

Dr. Brown then emphasizes

”It is important to understand that BOEM does not expect that 138,000 individual marine mammals, or anything close to that number will have their hearing injured by air guns if seismic surveys are permitted on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf….the number of modeled ‘takes’ in the PEIS is by design highly over-estimated to err on the side of protection, and it does not consider key mitigation measures that will b required to prevent ‘taking’….Therefore, even those number included in the PEIS are far in excess of those takes we anticipate, given the mitigation measures that will be employed. “

Dr. Brown’s article makes a number of other points, and it is available here.

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