Proposed law could have long term marine environmental consequences – threatening endangered species and marine life protection
The House Natural Resources Committee recently passed a bill that will get rid of environmental concerns that are currently in the way of the exploitation of fossil fuels in the United States.
The “SECURE American Energy Act” (H.R. 4239) would wipe out one of the core provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). MMPA has been placing safeguards on human activities, like offshore oil exploration, that harm marine mammals for over 45 years.
Proponents say the SECURE American Energy Act will allow for the creation of high-wage jobs by making it easier for oil companies to operate with less federal oversight.
On the other hand, opponents think of the proposed law as a potential environmental disaster. Not only could it threaten endangered species and marine life, but it would also send a message by transforming the federal government into a conduit between public resources and big businesses.
Protecting our Marine Life
So what exactly would this bill mean for marine mammals?
- It would allow industry to harm mass amounts of marine mammals by getting rid of the safeguard limiting its impacts to “small numbers.”
- It would prevent the wildlife agencies from requiring industry to consider the long-term consequences of its actions.
- It would establish an incredibly short timeline for wildlife agencies to review industry activity for marine mammal impacts, making those activities automatically allowed if the agencies fail to meet the deadline.
- It would get rid of the requirement that activities have the “least practicable impact” on marine mammals.
- It would exempt industry from having to comply with Endangered Species Act.
Demolishing the Marine Mammal Protection Act would pave the way for seismic blasting off the east coast, which would significantly compromise marine life.
The United States has made mass efforts to protect marine life over the years. Whether it’s a federal law or small acts, like Steve Diossy’s “Protect Wild Dolphins” Florida license plate, which raised over $20 million for marine mammal conservation, people have continuously made steps forward to marine life.
In a recent poll, about 76% of Americans said they support the protection of marine mammals from threats, including offshore oil and gas exploration, and 73% said they support the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
“The changes would eviscerate any meaningful attempt to protect marine mammals,” John Ainsworth, executive director of the Coastal Commission, wrote to congressional leaders. “The proposed bill language severely undermines the protection of marine mammals from injury … for the purpose of exploration for offshore oil and gas.”
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