Francisco Goya – El Bobilicon from “Los Desperates” 1864
Over the last few weeks the entire world has been staring aghast at our southern border as agents from our Customs and Border Patrol were tearing children away from their parents in what was globally condemned as a “human rights crisis.”
Not to miss a distracting opportunity, the Trump Administration and their Congressional shills used the occasion to eliminate the National Ocean Policy Act, put the National Environmental Policy Act on the chopping block, issue evisceration orders on the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Management Act, and try to eliminate the Marine Mammal Protection Act by burying it in a rider in the “must pass” National Defense Authorizations Act. For all of us in the marine conservation business this was (and continues to be) a “three alarm fire” aggravated by the fact that all the air in the room is being sucked out by a press-dominating hideous action; so press coverage (and thus public attention) on these critical issues is severely lacking.
If you haven’t caught on by now, distraction is a large component of how this administration is advancing their corporatists agenda – at the expense of the environment – and as we shall see, the quality of life for all living beings on the planet. At least the ones without scads of money…
I had a conversation last week with colleagues at NOAA’s “Office of Protected Resources – Permits Division” regarding other concerns we have about increasing noise from the industrialization and militarization of the ocean; most particularly the proliferation underwater acoustic communication signals – which remain largely unregulated. They helpfully suggested I call another colleague at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) – inasmuch as that agency is the first stop that Offshore Oil Industry needs to hit before asking for “Incidental Harassment Authorizations” (IHAs) from the Permits Division. (IHAs are permits to “incidentally” maim or kill certain numbers of marine mammals in the course of a proposed action.)
But as we were in the Permits Division, this would be the place to ask about the ever-pending Incidental Harassment Authorizations for the Mid-Atlantic seismic surveys. These surveys are decried by the majority of the public, elected officials, Chambers of Commerce, and commercial and recreational fishermen of the Atlantic states. Nonetheless the Seismic Survey Industry continues to “lick their chops” to get them permitted.
But when I asked about the disposition of the IHAs, I was told that they have been instructed not to talk about them. So the obvious conclusion is that despite an overwhelming opposition to the surveys, the IHAs are still in play.
I find a couple of things troubling here (aside from the obvious): Firstly, I pay these people’s salary, and they are keeping policy secrets from me. But more to the larger point; what hideous event will the Administration use to obscure the release of these destructive and widely reviled Incidental Harassment Authorizations?