Legislation by U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Benton, to ease oil and gas exploration in offshore waters advanced in Congress this week. The Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday (Jan. 10) endorsed Johnson’s would-be Streamlining Environmental Approvals Act of 2017, sending it to the full House.
Johnson casts the bill as one to “cut government red tape” and help Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts. He said it “reduces duplicative government regulations in the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act, while maintaining marine mammal protections and setting firm permitting deadlines for coastal initiatives.”
It’s backed by oil and gas interests because it would ease permitting for acoustic surveys of the seabed. They use a ship towing an array of chambers, filled with compressed air, across the water. Bursts of high-pressure energy are periodically released from the array, sending waves of sound to penetrate the rock layers beneath the seabed. Bouncing back to the surface, the sound waves are detected by hydrophones hung from a series of cables being towed by the ship. The sounds waves are recorded and used to map the Earth’s crust.
Animal advocates decry the tool. They say seismic air gun blasting disturbs, injures and sometimes kills marine mammals such as dolphins, porpoises, whales, seals, sea lions and walruses.
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Drew Broach covers Jefferson Parish politics and Louisiana interests in Congress, plus other odds and ends, for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. Email: email@example.com. Facebook: Drew Broach TP. Twitter: drewbroach1. Google+: Drew Broach.