We are in the midst of a public comment period for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) proposal to hand over the entire US Outer Continental Shelf to the oilmen. Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) a managing agency is required to take public comments when they are proposing changes in how our public assets are being managed.
In the past this also implied that representatives from the proposing agency would host public hearings where they could make their case and allow citizens to express themselves directly to the agency managers in charge of the assets. But this protocol has recently been subverted as increasingly-unpopular agency proposals are being met with increasingly angry citizens.
In order to avoid a public drubbing, agencies and their representatives have taken to “listening sessions” wherein the agency presents slickly produced advertisement for their proposal, and has a bunch of rosy-cheeked junior staff sitting behind tables to engage the public on the various aspects of the proposal. At the end of this there is a “comment station” where comments are lodged (and presumably counted).
To add insult to this miscarriage of representative democracy, there will be only a limited number of these hearings – mostly taking place in State Capitols – typically far away from most ocean stakeholders.
As you might imagine, there are a lot of folks who are not taking this sitting down. There will be public actions this Sunday February 3 coordinated by Center for Biological Diversity. There will also be many rallies and demonstrations associated with these “listening sessions.”
You can register and participate in these rallies on the Center for Biological Diversity Endangered Ocean web page
Here in California for the Thursday February 8 rally and “listening sessions” there will be busses leaving from San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Rosa. Please RSVP on these links to make sure there will be enough busses to hold the crowds.
Heretofore it has not been OCR policy to engage in public activism – hoping that our role in informing public discourse with science and technology would be valuable in-and-of-itself. Our over-arching objective is to be known an “honest broker” of information about our banner issue of ocean noise pollution.
But these are extraordinary times wherein those “entrusted” to manage our precious public assets are bent on handing them over to industry, and releasing industry from any caution or even appearances of responsible stewardship. They are also ignoring all science in their decisions, so while science will come into play as the Administration fends of lawsuits blocking their illegal actions, right now (and presumably for the remainder of their tenure) they will be ripping up and dispensing our public assets as fast as they can muster.
Under these circumstances we feel that sitting by the sidelines and launching data into the arguments would not be the most effective use of our resources.
If you are unable to make any of the public activities, please do take a moment to comment on the proposal to open up the entire Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas extraction. There is some good boilerplate being offered, but please take a moment to express your original thoughts. The reason for this is that unfortunately the public comments are mostly read by “bots” that sort into “yea” and “nay” boxes. If the text you use is duplicated, it reduces your effort to count only as one opinion. Democracy in action…
Public comments to BOEM on the Five-Year OCS plan can be lodged here:
Thanks for participating!