I’ve just submitted our comments to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Supplemental Draft Environmental Impacts Statement (SDEIS) on the impacts of Oil and Gas operations in the Arctic. This is a “Supplemental” DEIS because it is built on a 2011 DEIS looking at the same activities – Oil and Gas operations in the Arctic.
We submitted comments to the 2011 DEIS as well, along with colleagues at NRDC, Oceana, WWF, Alaska Wilderness League, Scientists, Fishermen, and subsistence hunters – all of whom highlighted the shortcomings of the draft proposal suggesting a more precautionary approach with the Arctic.
And that was before Royal Dutch Shell’s carnival of failures in the Arctic last summer. It was also before Conoco Phillips decided that the Arctic was too risky for continued efforts to establish extraction operations at this time.
So one would expect that NMFS “Office of Protected Resources” would fulfill its duty to protect the resources and revise the DEIS to reflect the preponderance of comments and concerns expressed by a large sector of the public – substantiated by many scientific papers and legal documents. But this was not to be the case.
It honestly appears as though NMFS went back to the Oilmen and asked what they really wanted from the Arctic because in the 2013 SDEIS the “Action Alternatives” were expanded to include more drilling and more seismic surveys than in the 2011 DEIS.
Our recommendation was to shelve the SDEIS for the time being. It turns out that NMFS will be submitting revised noise exposure standards for public comment, so using obsolete standards to evaluate a proposed five-year program falls short of responsible. The SDEIS could be trotted out again once the new standards are incorporated, but given the track record I would not place bets on NMFS doing the responsible thing.
You can review the 1480 page Arctic SDEIS here, lodge comments directly to NMFS on this comment link, or join the BucketHead Brigade and sign a group petition. You have until June 27 to add your voice.