Guest “No, not because climate change” by David Middleton
Because a fake whale species!
Energy Trades Condemn Biden Administration’s Baseless Restrictions on Offshore Energy Operations
WASHINGTON, July 21, 2023 — The American Petroleum Institute (API), EnerGeo Alliance and National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) today released the following statement in response to the announced Stipulated Stay Agreement in Sierra Club v. National Marine Fisheries Service:
“The men and women of America’s energy industry take seriously their responsibilities to the communities and the environment where they live and work. This private settlement agreement between the federal government and environmental activists places unfounded restrictions on operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico that severely hamper America’s ability to produce energy in a region that is responsible for the lowest carbon-intensive barrels in the world. Despite no evidence to warrant this far-reaching ban on operations after extensive data collections, today’s agreement undermines the integrity of legitimate conservation and habitat protection efforts, violates the explicit directives of Congress in enacting the Inflation Reduction Act, and harms America’s energy independence.”
[…]American Petroleum Institute
Where’s Joe Manchin When You Need Him?
API provides additional details on objections to federal deal with environmentalists
Kurt Abraham, Editor-in-Chief, World Oil July 24, 2023
After sounding the alarm last Friday evening about a deal reached between the federal government and environmentalists that is considered hostile to the oil and gas industry, API has provided World Oil with additional details on why this agreement is so damaging.
Not justified by science and data. Earlier on Monday, API provided World Oil with additional comments on the situation. “The government has cut a deal with environmental interests that is simply not justified by science and data,” said API. “There is little to no evidence that the Rice’s whale species (Fig. 1) allegedly protected by this settlement is in the expanded protection areas created by today’s agreement. In the agreement, the government states that they have no ‘reason to believe’ that incidental take of the whale may occur in the newly expanded protection areas.”
Furthermore, said API, “The agreement’s proposed operating recommendations would impose significant burdens on operators and increase emissions from vessels forced to operate at suboptimal speeds. An initial assessment found that abiding by the terms of the agreement could cut transit windows to less than 40% of the time annually and 25% during the winter, putting industry in an untenable position. These restrictions would unfairly single out oil and gas traffic in an area that is one of the most used maritime areas in U.S. waters by a variety of industries. Thousands of vessels pass through this area every day.”
Casting a shadow on lease sales. API also noted that the Biden administration has also agreed to exclude approximately 11 million acres in the heart of the Central and Western GOM from future lease sales. This acreage was contemplated by Congress to be available for future lease sales mandated by the Inflation Reduction Act.
Where is Manchin in all of this? One has to wonder what Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) thinks about this turn of events. After all, it was Manchin, who voted for the Inflation Reduction Act, only because he thought he had made a good horse trade to include pro-oil-and-gas planks in the legislation. Now, the spirt of that agreement and vote is being gutted by the crafty Biden operatives.World Oil
You Can’t Fix Stupid
The settlement would restrict the speed of vessels supporting oil & gas operations. It would not affect the operations of all other vessels operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Apart from clearly violating the Equal Protection Clause, this is just plain stupid.
And the federal government will impose new restrictions on oil and gas vessels, but not the thousands of vessels operated in other industries in the area. As such, oil and gas vessels must operate at slower speeds, which could cut transit windows to less than 40% of the time annually and 25% during the winter, according to API.Fox News
It would also remove 11 million acres in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico from future lease sales. I haven’t seen a map of the acreage that would be excluded, however, Rice’s Whales are generally located in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, which has largely been off limits to oil & gas exploration for decades.
Here’s a map of Gulf of Mexico oil & gas structures, with Rice’s whales’ primary habitat overlaid.
The next Gulf of Mexico lease sale is scheduled for September 27, 2023. The notice of sale has already been published…
SUMMARY: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) proposes to open and publicly announce bids received for blocks offered in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Lease Sale 261 (GOM Lease Sale 261), in accordance with the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), as amended, and its implementing regulations. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 requires BOEM to hold GOM Lease Sale 261 by September 30, 2023. The GOM Lease Sale 261 Proposed Notice of Sale (Proposed NOS) package contains information essential to potential bidders, including Information to Lessees and Lease Stipulations.BOEM
While the Inflation Reduction Act may be a joke, it does require this lease sale to be held by September 30. So the sale can’t legally be delayed and it’s a little late in the game to be carving out even more exclusion areas. I’ll post follow-ups as this latest act of lawlessness evolves.
Fake whale species
Rice’s whale (Balaenoptera ricei), also known as the Gulf of Mexico whale, is a species of baleen whale endemic to the northern Gulf of Mexico. Initially identified as a subpopulation of the Bryde’s whale, genetic and skeletal studies found it to be a distinct species by 2021. In outward appearance, it is virtually identical to the Bryde’s whale.Wikipedia
Up until 2021, Rice’s whales were a small group of Bryde’s whales peacefully coexisting with the oil & gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico for decades. Bryde’s whales are listed as “Least-Concern Species” by the IUCN.
A least-concern species is a species that has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as evaluated as not being a focus of species conservation because the specific species is still plentiful in the wild. They do not qualify as threatened, near threatened, or (before 2001) conservation dependent.Wikipedia
Two years ago, Rice’s whales were also part of a Least-Concern Species. Now they are considered “Critically Endangered,” one step above Extinct in the Wild. Here’s some food for thought: Before 2021, the population of Rice’s whales was zero-point-zero and they were part of a Least-Concern Species. The sudden discovery of 30-50 Rice’s whales turned them into a Critically Endangered Species.
As Ron White said…
Sinclair J. Oil and Gas Structures In Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas [Internet]. Stennis Space Center (MS): National Centers for Environmental Information; 2011. [1 screen]. Available from: https://gulfatlas.noaa.gov/.
The area being proposed as Rice’s Whale Critical Habitat is the entire outer-shelf and upper-slope of the Gulf of Mexico.
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
Proposed rule; request for comments and notice of public hearing.
We, NMFS, propose to designate critical habitat for the Rice’s whale ( Balaenoptera ricei) by designating waters from the 100 meter (m) isobath to the 400 m isobath in the Gulf of Mexico (GOMx), pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We have considered economic, national security, and other relevant impacts of the proposed designation. We are not excluding any particular area from the critical habitat designation. We seek comments on all aspects of the proposed critical habitat designation and will consider information received before issuing a final designation.Federal Register
The proposed rule is open for public comment until September 22, 2023.