The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued a record of decision (ROD) for environmental review of geological and geophysical (G&G) survey activities offshore the Atlantic Coast.
Last month BOEM Acting Director Walter D. Cruickshank reported that the US Department of the Interior’s next 5-year Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas program will likely include fresh G&G data for the South and Mid-Atlantic OCS (OGJ Online, June 13, 2014).
BOEM said the ROD established “the highest practicable level of mitigation measures and safeguards to reduce or eliminate impacts to marine life while setting a path forward for appropriate G&G survey activities off the Mid- and South Atlantic coast to update 40-year old data on the region’s offshore resources.”
BOEM noted, however, “The ROD does not authorize any G&G activities, but rather it establishes a framework for additional mandatory environmental reviews for site-specific actions and identifies broadly-applicable measures governing any future G&G activities in the region.”
BOEM said, “As new scientific information becomes available, these additional findings can be incorporated into the survey-specific environmental reviews through an adaptive management approach. BOEM will monitor implementation of these mitigations and, if warranted, will modify them as described in provisions of the PEIS addressing “adaptive management.”
The American Petroleum Institute welcomed the department’s decision to issue permits for seismic surveys in the Atlantic, but urged DOI to issue these surveys based on science, saying that “limitations not based in science might prevent some companies from seeking permits and performing surveys.”
API Upstream Director Erik Milito said, “Offshore energy exploration and production in the Atlantic could bring new jobs and higher revenues to states and local communities, while adding to our country’s capabilities as an energy superpower.” Milito went on to urge the Obama administration to move quickly “so that surveying operations can begin next spring.”
Milito said, however, “We remain concerned by the lack of scientific support for certain requirements the administration wants to impose on seismic surveys in the Atlantic. Operators already take great care to protect wildlife, and the best science and decades of experience prove that there is no danger to marine mammal populations.”
He said, “Restrictions that have no scientific basis can easily discourage exploration, private investment, and job creation. Regulators should rely only on sound science when setting permit requirements.”