Photo credit: spakattacksThe Department of Interior (DOI) is requiring private oil companies to hire marine mammal and sea turtle monitors if the companies are granted a lease to drill offshore. A marine mammal observer’s job is to watch for whales, dolphins, and similar sea creatures and to advise on minimizing the underwater noise created by offshore drilling, which can affect the sea mammals.
The DOI announced in a press release last week that it will open up 20 million acres in the Western Gulf of Mexico for an oil and gas lease sale to be held Nov. 28, which is part of the administration’s “Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012–2017 (Five Year Program).”
The terms of the sale, which were finalized by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), include several environmental safeguards.
“These terms include measures to protect the environment, such as stipulations requiring that operators protect biologically sensitive features and provide trained observers to monitor marine mammals and sea turtles to ensure compliance and restrict operations when conditions warrant,” the release said.
“Every time we do a sale we do an environmental analysis and in that we list the terms to protect the environment,” said John Filostrat, of the BOEM Public Affairs Office. “One of those terms is requiring operators to observe marine mammals when they’re conducting operations.
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