July 13, 2012
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska and Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Washington, sent a letter
to Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and James Watson, Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), asking what measures NOAA and BSEE have taken to ensure that the planned protest activities in the Arctic by Greenpeace do not disrupt or threaten safe operations, disturb marine mammals or interfere with anticipated Native Alaskan subsistence efforts.
“We share your concern for ensuring proper oversight of oil and gas operations on the Outer Continental Shelf,” Murkowski and Hastings wrote. “In that regard, we want to be sure that you have the resources, are planning and prepared to respond to the steps that Greenpeace is planning to impede exploratory drilling operations in arctic waters off the north coast of Alaska.”
Greenpeace is attempting to protest and “monitor” Shell’s activities by interfering with permitted work in the Arctic through the usage of a 216 foot ice class ship, two large rigid hull and four small inflatables, two submarines, and an aerial drone. Murkowski and Hastings are concerned that federal agencies have not accounted for the likelihood that Greenpeace’s activities will cause disturbance to marine mammals, pollution to the environment, or conflict with Native Alaskans through the physical presence of vessels.
“NOAA’s and BSEE’s analysis of planned oil and gas exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas has devoted extraordinary and unprecedented attention to the potential impacts of vessels and other activities,” they wrote. “Though the potential for impacts is similar, there has been no such analysis or permitting of the planned protest activities or the operation of the vessels participating in them. In addition to the environmental problems presented by the protest fleet, it seems that there are special dangers in having multiple submarines operated by different parties in and around drilling operations.”
Murkowski is the Ranking Member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. Hastings is the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
The letters are attached.
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