CRE Comments on NOAA’s Proposed Take Rules for Oil and Gas Seismic in the Gulf of Mexico

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed comments that criticized NOAA’s use of inaccurate and unreliable models to estimate takes from GOM seismic.  CRE’s comments explained that these inaccurate and unreliable models greatly overestimate takes, have no correlation with reality, and violate the Data Quality Act.  CRE’s comments recommended that NOAA take the following actions (footnotes omitted):

“Until and unless peer review determines that the models are accurate and properly validated, NOAA should use Line Transect to estimate exposures and takes.

NOAA should also:

(1) use Wood et al (2012) instead of Nowacek et al (2015) for Level B takes.

(2) notimpose sperm whale shutdowns.

(3) not create a 100m-400m-isopleth “habitat zone” for the Bryde’s whale.

NOAA must comply with Administration policy decisions specific to its marine mammal programs and therefore should:

(1) emphasize in the GOM Take Rules that no one has to use the Acoustic Guidance.

(2) emphasize in the GOM Take Rules that there is no evidence of harm from decades of oil and gas seismic in the Gulf of Mexico and therefore there are minimal or no benefits resulting from the NPRM and therefore it is in violation of Executive Order 12866.

(3) The adoption of Line Transect as the basis for the Take Rule will pre-empt any challenges under the Data Quality Act.

(4) Note that environmentalists have already sued BOEM on GOM take rules and NOAA is apparently afraid that it too will be sued by environmental NGOs if it does not promulgate GOM Take rules soon. NOAA appears to believe that it has to use its current models, Risk Assessment Factors and Acoustic Guidance in order to be responsive to a judicial decree to promulgate Take rules.

The aforementioned fear is unfounded because Line Transect is an available and proven technology which can satisfy any judicial demand for the issuance of a take rule because NOAA’s underlying models, Risk Assessment Factors and Acoustic Guidance are too flawed to be used at this time and the Acoustic Guidance is not relevant to the bulk of the proposed rules.

(5) NOAA should revisit the use of its models as a substitute for line transect subsequent to its demonstration in a public forum that they comply with the requirements of the Data Quality Act.”

Click here to read CRE’s entire comments.




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