All hands on deck! April 16 public hearing in SF.

In the last months of the prior administration many changes occurred in our energy policies that could have a profound effect on the health of our oceans. First, the longstanding moratorium on offshore drilling lapsed. And secondly, in somewhat of a “midnight deal” signed on December 23, the 5 year offshore oil leasing program was set in motion with a very limited window for public comment.

This limited window, and what the leasing plan offered to the petroleum industry was in keeping with the degenerated policies of the Minerals Management Service over the past few years. (Does everybody remember the cocaine and party-girls scandal that came up last year? See: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/27081427/obamas_sheriff )

The new Secretary in the Interior, Ken Salazar put the brakes on the midnight deal, stating that the leasing plans and the implications for our long-term national energy policy were much too important to blow through with such a short public review period, so he extended it to 180 days.

Secretary Salazar is currently holding a series of four public hearings on the issue of offshore oil leases beginning last week in Atlantic City. The hearing today is in New Orleans. Next week there will be a hearing on April 14 in Anchorage Alaska, and on April 16 in San Francisco.

You can catch the hearing live here: http://www.doi.gov/ (right now in New Orleans).

If you really want to catch them live, you can attend the Alaska or the San Francisco events, opening at 8:00 a.m. local time and beginning at 9:00. You are also invited to present your comments on offshore fossil fuel development, or wind farms, or tidal and current energy resources.

I will be attending and presenting comments on the potential acoustic impacts of the new seafloor processing equipment being deployed in newer offshore operations. I will also comment on the need to decrease rather than expand energy strategies that depend on releasing currently-sequestered CO2 into the atmosphere.

If you have a fresh take on the issue I encourage you to participate and speak out, but most of the public sentiments both for and against offshore oil developments have been aired, so if you only have a “me too,” for expedience it may be best not to add that comment to the agenda.

Nonetheless I would like to encourage you to show up, to see the process in action, as well as to let the Secretary know by a “show of bodies” where the public stands at this critical juncture in our energy future.

If you are in the Bay Area and are really into fun times, I have colleagues who are organizing a playful rally. So if you want to “dress up in the dolphin outfits,” or be a mermaid and swim around with the turtles, let me know and I will connect you with the right folks. I also suspect that there will be some fraternizing in town after the event.

If you do participate, I will also send your e-mail out to others so we can maximize our carpooling efforts.

For information about the plan and the hearings, check here:

http://www.mms.gov/5-year/

If you can not attend but still want to comment, see:

http://www.mms.gov/5-year/2010-2015DPPComments.htm

If you would like some tips on what to say, I will be sending a short primer out after the hearing on some of the concerns. We have until mid September to submit our comments.

Otherwise, I look forward to seeing you there!