Posted on December 27, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Ocean conservation advocates say federal government must use new data on endangered North Atlantic right whales when it considers permits for fossil fuel exploration. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Conservation advocates call for expansion of protective zones and seasonal closures
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Endangered North Atlantic right whales may be more at risk from oil exploration than previously thought.
New research from Cornell University suggests the rare marine mammals are present throughout the year at varying distances off the coast of Virginia, putting them at risk from the acoustic impacts generated by seismic airguns — used to probe the ocean floor for oil and gas deposits. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Cornell University, Environment, marine mammals, North Atlantic right whales, oceans, seismic airguns | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 5, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Too much oil, not enough science ….
Harassment of prominent researcher likely aimed at stifling scientists
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — A scientist who was targeted by a politically driven investigation has retired from the federal agency that is supposed to regulate oil development in the Arctic after settling his whistleblower complaint against the U.S. Department of Interior.
Dr. Charles Monnett, a senior scientist with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, was hectored for several years after publishing observations about drowning polar bears. The witch hunt ended in October with the Department of Interior withdrawing its letter of reprimand and paying Monnett $100,000.
“It’s a relief to be able to speak,” Monnett said, expressing his belief that the investigation was intended squelch scientific evidence that would make it more difficult to issue oil and gas drilling permits in the sensitive Arctic environment. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Alaska, Arctic oil drilling, BOEM, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 23, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Feds, oil companies agree to some limits on seismic airgun testing
Marine mammals like coastal bottlenose dolphins will get some relief from seismic airgun blasting in the Gulf of Mexico. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Whales, dophins and other marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico will enjoy a little more peace and quiet under a new agreement that limits seismic airgun testing.
Under the deal, oil companies and the federal government will make some biologically important areas off-limits to testing. The agreement will also expand protection to additional at-risk species, and require the use of listening detection devices to better ensure surveys do not injure endangered sperm whales. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, gas drilling, Marine biology, ocean conservation, oil drilling | Tagged: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico, marine mammals, ocean conservation, oceans, seismic airgun testing | 2 Comments »
Posted on June 8, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Will the U.S. finally start developing its promising offshore windpower potential?
Feds prepare to lease about 245,000 acres off New England Coast
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Nine companies are lined up to bid on the first-ever sale of leases for offshore wind power, with two big parcels about nine miles south of Rhode Island and Massachusetts on the auction block.
According to a report from the Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory, development of the 245,000-acre area could generate up to 3,400 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 1 million homes and up significantly from previous estimates for the area.
While development is still a few years off, the projects could finally help the U.S. start catching up to countries like Holland, Germany and Denmark, which have been producing significant amounts of offshore wind energy for many years. The auction is scheduled for July 31. Information and documents on the projects are compiled on this website. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, renewable energy | Tagged: BOEM, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Offshore wind power, renewable energy | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 22, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A published article on polar bears has been an unending source of woes for a BOEM scientist. Photo courtesy USGS.
BOEM again rejects calls for renewed scrutiny of Charles Monnett
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Government investigators just don’t want to stop scrutinizing an Arctic scientist who reported on sightings of drowned polar bears a few years ago.
Since publishing a peer-reviewed observational note in 2006, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management scientists Dr. Charles Monnett has been hounded by indirect allegations of scientific and professional misconduct related to the article and to his handling of contracting duties with the agency. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, endangered species, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Inspector General, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 29, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A June 2012 image shows sea ice breaking up in the Beaufort Sea, targeted by energy companies for oil drilling.
Investigation ends with letter of reprimand for leaking emails
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY —A Kafka-esque federal probe of a polar biologist ended inconclusively this week, as biologist Charles Monnett got a mild slap on the wrist for an alleged breach of policy that was unrelated to the focus of the 2.5-year investigation.
No charges will be brought against the Monnett regarding his high-profile research on polar bears, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, but according to the Alaska Dispatch, the federal government still maintains that Monnett and a co-researcher may have used incomplete and perhaps even false data in writing a report about polar bear drownings.
According to the Alaska Dispatch, the Inspector General report also suggested that Monnett “intended to manipulate data to meet a personal agenda, including influencing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.”
To this point, Monnett has received a letter of reprimand for allegedly improper disclosures back in 2007 and 2008 which helped reveal that Bush administration suppressed scientific information about oil drilling impacts.
Filed under: Arctic, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Arctic, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Charles Monnett, energy, Environment, Inspector General, oil drilling, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Whistleblower Protection Act | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 14, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Proposed facility off the coast of Maine could show feasibility of floating turbines
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Offshore wind power is already a significant part of the energy portfolio in countries like Denmark, Holland and Germany, and the U.S., with extensive areas of coastline, has the potential to become a major producer of offshore wind energy.
Developing the resource isn’t without challenges, as some communities have objected to the visual impacts of wind turbines near shorelines, and there are also concerns over impacts to wildlife, primarily birds. Infrastructure is another issue, as the offshore facilities require transmission lines to bring the power to shore.
On the positive side, offshore turbines could be sited near coastal urban areas with dense populations, where the energy is needed the most. But for now, many of those questions are still hypothetical, as offshore windpower is still in its infancy in this country.
That may start to change, however, as the Department of Interior starts to scrutinize a proposed project that could demonstrate floating offshore wind technology on the Outer Continental Shelf of the coast of Maine. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, renewable energy | Tagged: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, energy, Maine, Offshore wind power, renewable energy, Statoil | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 24, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Conservation coalition says feds are ignoring painful lessons of Deepwater Horizon oil disaster
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — New deep water drilling plans in the Gulf of Mexico won’t go forward without a legal test, as a coalition of environmental groups last week challenged the Department of Interior’s decision to proceed with new permits without fully addressing the risks to wildlife and the environment.
While drilling regulators believe they have developed a robust new set of safety and environmental regulations, the conservation community thinks otherwise, claiming in the lawsuit that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management dismissed the lessons learned during the Deepwater Horizon disaster and failed to obtain essential information about the status of species and resources still suffering from the 2010 oil spill. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Center for Biological Diversity, deep water oil drilling, Deepwater horizon oil spill, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, Natural Resources Defense Council, oil spills | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 27, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
A bearded seal pup on the Arctic ice. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
Obama administration under political pressure to permit new drilling in fragile Arctic Ocean ecosystem; public comment taken through Feb. 13
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal officials say plans to drill for oil in the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska will cause only “minor to moderate” impacts to rare bowhead and beluga whales — despite the potential for another spill on the scale of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and no good way to clean it up.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a draft environmental impact statement on the drilling plan just before Christmas, outlining the potential impacts, as well as mitigation measures that could be implemented to minimize effects on the marine environment. The draft EIS is open for public comment through Feb. 13. All the documents for the project are online here. Continue reading
Filed under: endangered species, energy, Environment, federal government, Marine biology, oil drilling, Summit County news | Tagged: Arctic oil drilling, Beluga whales, bowhead whales, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Chukchi Sea, Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Marine Mammal Protection Act, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 9, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Parts of the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea would be opened for oill drilling under an Obama administration plan announced this week.
Interior Department proposes 3 offshore Alaska lease sales and 12 in the Gulf of Mexico
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Obama administration this week cautiously moved toward increased oil leasing, exploration and drilling in the Arctic Sea off the coast of Alaska, as well as more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
The proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-202 includes 12 potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and three in Alaskan coastal waters. According to the announcement from the U.S. Department of Interior, the program makes available for exploration and development more than 75 percent of the undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore. The draft Environmental Impact Statement is available here as a PDF document.
President Obama has been under enormous political pressure to develop more onshore and offshore domestic energy resources, with Republicans in Congress leading the charge as they advocate for increased drilling as a way to help the economy.
The proposed lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas are scheduled late in the 5-year period to enable more scientific study and data collection, and longer term planning for spill response preparedness and infrastructure. The proposal is subject to a series of public hearings and maps are online here. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, oil drilling, Summit County news | Tagged: Alaska, Alaska oil drilling, Arctic, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Chukchi Sea, Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico | Leave a comment »