BOEM Calls for Strong Protection for Gulf Wildlife from Survey Impacts

The draft evaluates the potential environmental impacts of survey activities on marine mammals, fish, coral, and other environmentally sensitive species in the seabed and water column of the Outer Continental Shelf.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has issued a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) that recommends strong measures to protect marine mammals and coastal environments in the Gulf of Mexico from potential impacts of geological and geophysical surveys for oil, gas, and minerals. BOEM said completing a draft PEIS was one condition of a federal court settlement between it and the National Resource Defense Council and other co-plaintiffs announced earlier this year.

"BOEM's recommended approach offers the strongest practicable safeguards in an effort to eliminate or reduce impacts to marine mammals and the environment," said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper. "We continue to conduct research and monitor the science of this field and work with other agencies and stakeholders to create and maintain the protection of these resources."

The draft evaluates the potential environmental impacts of survey activities on marine mammals, fish, coral, and other environmentally sensitive species in the seabed and water column of the Outer Continental Shelf. Such surveys tell oil and gas exploration and sand extraction companies what areas have a high potential for energy development or extraction of minerals; the activity uses deep-penetration and high-resolution surveys, electromagnetic surveys, magnetic surveys, gravity surveys, remote-sensing surveys, and geological and geochemical sampling.

BOEM is the lead agency on the draft PEIS, with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the National Marine Fisheries Service working as cooperating agencies. The draft is open for public comment for 60 days and BOEM will hold five public meetings to solicit input and answer questions:

  • Nov. 9, 2016, Wyndham Garden New Orleans Airport, 6401 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, La., 4-7 p.m. CST
  • Nov. 10, 2016, Courtyard by Marriott, Gulfport Beachfront MS Hotel, 1600 East Beach Boulevard, Gulfport, Miss., 4-7 p.m. CST
  • Nov. 14, 2016, Four Points By Sheraton Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., 4-7 p.m. CST
  • Nov. 15, 2016, The Admiral Hotel Mobile, 251 Government Street, Mobile, Ala., 4-7 p.m. CST
  • Nov. 17, 2016, Houston Marriott North, 255 North Sam Houston Pkwy East, Houston, 4-7 p.m. CST

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