False Flags and Foul Intentions


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?


4 comments for “False Flags and Foul Intentions

  1. Kim R Sawicki
    July 29, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    Can you explain the “must pass” on the NDAA a little more for me? Trying to research this a bit more but new to reading and interpreting. Thank you for these posts, very informative. Wish these issues were not being buried by the media but grateful to you for getting the message out.

    • mstocker
      July 29, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      This is part of the “sausage making” that comprises how legislation is crafted in DC. “Riders” are attached to bills for various reasons: Sometimes a “poison pill” is attached to keep the larger bill from passing; sometimes “statement riders” are attached to reveal the sentiments of those who do or don’t vote for a bill (these are most often used to make someone look bad). And in this case – the Defense Budget Authorization, which needs to be passed every year or we don’t have military funding, riders are attached to hide unsavory legislation that the Majority wants to pass, which in this case, 85% of the public is mostly against (we like our marine mammals).

      The big, nasty version of the rider came out of the House – where the idiot-ideologues have their cadre of rabid constituents they need to please.

      Often times the “idiot riders” are stripped out in the Senate version because they make the Senate look bad, and if there is enough vacillation in the Senate to have the rider hold the bill up, they don’t want to be blamed for “not funding the Military,” which would have fallen on the Majority in this case. As there are a number of Republican Senators who have constituents who like marine mammals, most of the ugly stuff was pulled out.

      The rider was also watered down because we, (along with a number of our conservation colleagues) let the Senate and our own constituents know that they were not hiding anything from us. But as the US Navy wanted to be exempt from re-authorizations of their action plans every five years, they asked for a permanent exemption from re-authorizing Environmental Impact Statements and Incidental Harassment Permits.

      In the end the re-authorization period was extended to seven years – which was the extent of the compromise to the MMPA – because the Navy asked for it. It would have been much worse if we hadn’t make a big stink about it, but it is still a compromise. So the Oilmen didn’t win all they wanted on this round, but we are currently working on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which the want to kill, and next up is the Endangered Species Act – which is currently in review and we’ll be working on once we file our NEPA comments. (Stay tuned…)

  2. Joseph J. Fioramonti
    August 9, 2018 at 1:22 am

    My wife and 34 year old son and I can’t believe that these people are getting away with all the terrible things they are doing, we really need to vote these terrible people out of Washington, we are going so far backwards from how hard we worked to protect people and animals and this planet, so our children and grandchildren etc. would still have a planet and all the beauty of it to enjoy. They are going to destroy all of it if they are given enough time !!!

    • mstocker
      August 9, 2018 at 7:12 pm

      Get everyone out to the polls in November. It may be our last chance before the collapse of the Republic…

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