The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management moved a step closer to geologic and geophysical (G&G) activity on the southern and mid-Atlantic US Outer Continental Shelf as it released its long-awaited final programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for the area.
The PEIS does not authorize any G&G activities itself, BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau said. It establishes a framework for additional mandatory environmental reviews for site-specific actions and identifies broadly applicable measures governing any future G&G activities, he explained. BOEM will accept comments on it until Apr. 7.
Its preferred alternative identifies the most protective mitigation measures and the strongest safeguards to reduce or eliminate impacts to marine life, Beaudreau said.
“The Department [of the Interior] and BOEM have been steadfast in our commitment to balancing the need for understanding offshore energy resources with the protection of the human and marine environment using the best available science as the basis of this environmental review," he indicated.
Mitigation efforts include requirements to avoid vessel strikes, special closure areas to protect the main migratory route for the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale, geographic separation of simultaneous seismic air gun surveys, and passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) to supplement visual observers and improve detection of marine mammals prior to and during seismic air gun surveys.