REGULATOR ACCUSED OF FLAWED APPROACH TO SEISMIC SURVEYS
As a sub-department within the cabinet positioned Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) creates environmental sustainability that includes monitoring offshore extraction efforts conducted by national and multinational energy companies. The BOEM works hard to link environmental sustainability to American economic prosperity through implementing measures that manage open water resources.
After releasing the final version of the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), the BOEM received harsh criticism for its description of the geophysical activities unfolding within the United States controlled section of the Gulf of Mexico. Several international oil companies, along with some non-profit monitoring organizations lashed out at the final PEIS, which declared the effect of deep seismic air gun surveys on aquatic life is considered moderate. The labeling of the impact of the seismic surveys as moderate indicated the Ocean Energy Management believes the scientific activities present more of a threat to marine mammals than what private and some non-public entities believe.
As President of the International Association of Geophysical Contractors (IAGC), Nikki Martin described the latest release of the PEIS as disturbingly flawed in the application of the scientific principles that pertain to measuring the impact of these surveys on marine life. Martin also stated the BOEM was excessively cautionary by using the term moderate to describe the effect of the surveys in the Gulf of Mexico. The President of IAGC went on to say the report puts one of the highest producing oil regions in the world at risk of losing its spot as a leading oil supplier. Martin rebutted the Ocean Energy Management report by claiming the agency refused to consider more than 50 years of surveys that did not make a negative impact on marine life within the United States control section of the Gulf of Mexico.
Several peers of Martin have recently come out in defense of the IAGC President. Martin has used the support to remain one of the primary voices raising concerns about the BOEM seismic study impact report. According to Martin, the last version of the PEIS produces unnecessary restrictions on the completion of geophysical surveys. Martin also has said anti-energy organizations have too much influence in the development of BOEM initiatives.
According to Martin, the BOE was asked not to cave in to the political pressure applied by people who promote anti-oil and anti-gas agendas. Another energy industry group, API, also has expressed discontent with the final version of the PEIS. The group issued a statement disapproving the report, saying it failed to account for comprehensive efforts put forth by the energy industry to mitigate environmental damage. Moreover, the API claimed the final PEIS did not use the latest scientific tools and techniques for monitoring scientific cause and effect relationships. API Senior Offshore Policy Advisor, Andy Radford, insists seismic surveys represent technology that is proven safe and it does not put marine animals in harm’s way. Outside of the oil and natural gas industry, the United States Geological Survey and the National Science Foundation implement seismic surveys to collect data about the different scientific phenomenon.