The way ahead…

Flaring FPSO

For those of you “just waiting for the other shoe to drop” on the “election collusion” inquiry with the hopes that it will somehow stop – or at least slow down the rapacious industrial policies being thrown at us by the current administration; hold on to your hats. They have spent 2017 just getting their engines running.

Most of the Executive Orders are in place. The lieutenants of their campaigns are all seated.  There are no adults in the room. And any mediating voices have been asked to leave the table. Now the “fun” begins.

To get a taste of this new regime, last Friday, in the late hours of the beginning of a holiday weekend, at the end of a holiday month, safety standards that were drawn up in response to the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster were brought out to review with a request to “amend, revise, or remove current regulatory provisions that create unnecessary burdens on stakeholders.” We will have 30 days to comment on this. But given how impermeable the administration is to public comments, it is likely this will end up in court.

In preparation for this proposed action, earlier in December the Department of the Interior (DOI) placed a “Stop-work Order” on a National Academy of Sciences study on the effectiveness of this same safety program.

We are also anticipating the release of the “SECURE Act” into law (“Strengthening the Economy with Critical Untapped Resources to Expand American Energy Act”) either today, or next Wednesday – to be signed into law once “approved.” This Act will require offshore oil leases to be opened, including the Mid-Atlantic, the Arctic, the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the West Coast; delivering on American Petroleum Institute president Jack Gerard’s 2012 promise of “drilling on all four coasts by 2018.

Digging a bit deeper into the Act we find that it completely eviscerates the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and puts the Marine Mammal Commission under the auspices of the Department of the Interior. These activities, along with a few anti-regulatory embellishments and budgetary legerdemain will essentially hand our US Outer Continental Shelf over to the fossil industry (including non-US Citizens) to have their way with it.

Emblematic of the administration’s position on how to contend with things they don’t like; despite 100,000 public comments – 98% in favor of not tampering with the monuments and sanctuaries, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending opening up huge areas of monuments and sanctuaries to extractive industries.

It has not been our policy to be aggressive in our policy dealings, but yesterday we hit the ground running, and this coming week by way of a number of strategic planning calls with our conservation colleagues, I suspect we will put a lot more items into our inbox.

We will let you all know how you might most effectively engage without burning out your bearings. My suggestion right now is to conserve your energies; avoid getting pissed off (as anger an internal condition that rarely effects the ones who incite it). Also, unless you find signing petitions cathartic, you would be MUCH better served by writing letters or public comments to the appropriate agencies or Congressional Representatives.


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