HBW Resources Offshore Oil & Gas Energy Development Report. New Regulations Considered As Plans For Expanded OCS Development Take Shape

HBW Resources Offshore Report

Below is a summary of publicly available activities currently underway that could affect the development of offshore oil and gas resources prepared by Brent Greenfield, HBW Resources’ Director of Ocean Policy and Regulatory Affairs.

Comment Period Reopened On Draft Marine Mammal Acoustic Guidance

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has announced the reopening of the public comment period regarding its Draft Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammals.  NMFS is providing an additional 45 days of public comment, with comments now due on Thursday, March 13, and now expects to have the guidance finalized in summer 2014.

The draft guidance contains updated received levels (thresholds) above which individual marine mammals are predicted to experience changes in hearing sensitivity (temporary or permanent) for all underwater anthropogenic sound sources.

NOAA Fisheries Says Protection for Caribbean Electric Ray May Be Warranted

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service has announced its 90-day finding that substantial scientific or commercial information indicates that it may be warranted to institute a petitioned action to list the Caribbean electric ray as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to designate critical habitat.  Information and comments are by Monday, March 31, 2014.

The Caribbean electric ray’s range extends from the Western Atlantic (North Carolina) through the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, Lesser and Greater Antilles, and the north coast of South America.

While the petition states that shrimp trawl bycatch is the primary threat to the species, it also says that “[w]ide-ranging problems of declining coastal habitats and ecosystems from human population growth, pollution, and oil and gas exploration adversely impact the Caribbean Electric Ray and prompt ESA protection is essential to ensure continued survival of the species.”

NMFS notes that it “acknowledge[s]” that oil and gas exploration “may adversely affect the marine environment” and says that the Deepwater Horizon spill will “likely impact[] the marine ecosystem in ways that may not be fully known for decades.”  However, it adds that the petition “fails to provide any information on the specific effects to Caribbean electric rays beyond broad statements on the impacts of…oil and gas exploration,” concluding that those threats “do not constitute substantial information that listing may be warranted.”

NMFS will now commence a comprehensive status review to determine whether a listing is warranted.

Comments Sought On Draft Strategic Growth System For Nat’l. Wildlife Refuge System

The Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that it is seeking comments on its proposed policy to implement a strategic approach to the growth of the National Wildlife Refuge System.  Comments on the draft policy are due by Monday, March 3, 2014.

Under the proposed draft policy, growth of the National Wildlife Refuge System “must focus on acquiring interests in lands and waters” for priority conservation features addressing the recovery of threatened and endangered species, implementation of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and conservation of migratory birds of conservation concern.

NOAA Seeks Comments On MMPA-Related Information Collection Request

NOAA recently announced that it is seeking comments on its intention to seek Office of Management and Budget approval to renew an information collection pertaining to applications and reporting requirements for the incidental take of marine mammals by specified activities (other than commercial fishing operations) under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Comments are due byFriday, Feb. 28, 2014.

Availability of Environmental Study Results Announced By BOEM

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management recently announced the uploading of eleven reports/technical summaries to the Environmental Studies Program Information System.

Topics addressed in the report address, among other things, evaluation of NASA’s algorithms used to interpret remote sensing data for water quality along the Louisiana/Mississippi Outer Continental Shelf, studies related to migratory birds and long-tailed ducks on the Atlantic OCS, and research concerning fishes and kelp associated with Pacific OCS oil and gas platforms.

Coast Guard Advisory Committee to Discuss OCS-Related Proposed Task Statement

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has announced that the Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC) will hold a public meeting in Dania Beach, FL on March 11-12, 2014 to discuss various issues related to the training and fitness of marine personnel.

According to the announcement, agenda items for the second day of meetings will include briefings about ongoing USCG merchant marine-related projects such as a proposed Task Statement on training of personnel and manning on mobile offshore units and offshore supply vessels on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Additional Information

For additional information, contact Brent Greenfield with HBW Resources. His contact information is below.

Brent Greenfield
HBW Resources
2211 Norfolk Street, #410
Houston, TX 77098
Tel: 713-337-8810
E-mail: bgreenfield@hbwresources.com
Web: http://www.hbwresources.com

If you have any general questions, please give me a call anytime. Previous reports and other updates can be found at the HBW Resources Intelligence Tab at: https://hbwresources.com/intelligence/.   Hope you have a great day.

Thanks,

Michael Zehr
HBW Resources
1666 K Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006
Direct: 202-429-6081
Cell: 202-277-3927
E-mail: mzehr@hbwresources.com
Twitter: @mzehrhbw