EnerGeo Alliance Calls for Transparency from National Marine Fisheries Service for Gulf of Mexico Incidental Take Regulations After It Botched the First Version

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) throws up yet another roadblock preventing stakeholders’ full evaluation and comment on the model underpinning the Gulf of Mexico Incidental Take Regulations (GOM ITR) Proposed Rule.

Houston, Texas, U.S., Feb. 07, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The EnerGeo Alliance today issued the following statement from Vice President, Global Policy & Government Affairs, Dustin Van Liew after submission of joint industry comments on the revised ITR related to geoscience surveys on the outer continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico to correct math errors that have obstructed energy development in the U.S. for more than a year.

“After taking nearly a year to publicly admit to a critical mathematical error in its Incidental Take Regulation, NMFS has again refused to provide its model inputs and outputs underpinning the ‘modified’ Proposed Rule for public review, preventing the assurance that errors have not yet again occurred.

“While we understand that errors can occur when estimating incidental take for a wide-ranging, complex regulation such as the GOM ITR, it is unfortunate that neither NMFS nor the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) detected the mathematical error in the previous Rule prior to promulgating the 2021 GOM ITR. This error has caused substantial and unnecessary delays in the processing of letters of authorization (LOAs), which, in turn, resulted in substantial and unnecessary delays in activities that are essential to maintaining the exploration and production of nationally important petroleum and natural gas resources in the GOM.

“Had NMFS published the inputs and outputs of the model used for estimating incidental take the first time, the public may have identified the error and alerted the agency in comments. It does not seem reasonable that the agency would take a chance on making similar mistakes in this version. 

“We urge NMFS to be more transparent and publish its modeling inputs and outputs used for estimations so that a thorough analysis can be conducted.  Despite our continuing objections to the GOM ITR, which are set forth in our regulatory comments, we will continue to productively work with the agency to help ensure the most effective and efficient implementation of the GOM ITR.

“Finally, this ITR quagmire in the GOM is not an isolated problem. Similar serious problems have occurred in the federal government’s regulation of incidental take in other areas, such as the Arctic and the Atlantic. These problems are clear evidence that the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) is woefully flawed, outdated, and in need of modernization. Modernizing the MMPA would enable efficient and effective application of the act to a more defined set of industries, in line with advances in technology and updated data that reflect the long track record of safe, responsible energy geoscience industry operations around the world.”


About the EnerGeo Alliance

Founded in 1971, the EnerGeo Alliance is a global trade alliance for the energy geoscience industry, the intersection where earth science and energy meet. The EnerGeo Alliance and its member companies span more than 50 countries, and together, unify to open the gateway to the safe discovery, development, and delivery of mainstay sources of energy, alternative energy and low-carbon energy solutions that meet our growing world’s needs.


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