As the comment period for the Outer Continental Shelf 2017 – 2022 Five Year Plan (OCS 2017-2022 DPP) came to a close we received a ruling on the NRDC et. al. vs. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on the agency’s granting the US Navy permission to maim millions of marine animals in the Hawaii – Southern California Testing and Training Range Environmental Impact Statement (HSTT EIS) with a finding of “negligible impacts.”
We chimed in on the HSTT EIS in 2012 – noting that while the Navy’s position was more candid than previous Environmental Impact Statements, it was also stunningly robust in the record level of noise exposure “takes” they were requesting of NMFS – and which NMFS granted. This became the grounds for the NRDC suit – on which we served as one of the plaintiffs for standing.
NRDC’s crack team did an excellent job on the case, tidily buttoning it up and leaving the Judge a clear path to the right decision – ruling “in favor for Plaintiffs on all claims: for all parties under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act, and in favor of Conservation Council.”
The closing of the OCS 2017-2022 DPP on Monday marked the close of what we in the Environmental NGO community believe was a pretty successful campaign that will be hard for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to forget. While BOEM was clearly trying to control the message – through a weak-chinned public hearing process, closed meetings with industry, and outright prevarication, they did not command the ink on the process.
Hundreds of people appeared at each of the public hearings, and some 425,000 public comments, close to 50 city and county resolutions, and a generous pile of technical comments were taken all in opposition to the proposal to drill the Atlantic. Should BOEM approve the leases on the Atlantic “they’ll have some ‘splainin’ to do.”