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Soundings Archive

MMS Holds Public Hearings on OCS 5-Year Plan
The U. S. Minerals Management Service has so far held two public hearings on MMS' plan for offshore energy development on the nation's Outer Continental Shelf during the period 2010-2015. The first hearing was held in Atlantic City on April 6, 2009. The second hearing was held in New Orleans on April 8, 2009. Both hearings were broadcast live online and recorded.

There are two more hearings scheduled for the MSS 5-year plan: One in Anchorage on April 14; and one in San Francisco on April 16. Both hearings are scheduled to begin at 9:00 AM local time, and both will last until 8:00 in the evening.

The Atlantic City hearing focused on the Atlantic OCS, while the New Orleans heating focused on the Gulf of Mexico. At both hearings, Department of Interior Secretary Salazar and MMS representatives emphasized the need to discuss development of renewable energy sources, such as wind, as well as oil and gas exploration and production. Both hearings lasted for hours, and there were many diverse views presented by the attending public. Several points, however, stood out.

First, several Atlantic state elected officials spoke at the Atlantic City hearing. Most opposed any oil and gas exploration and production in the Atlantic OCS.

Second, MMS emphasized a few environmental concerns at both hearings. They are
  • Oil spills

  • Navy sonar and oil and gas seismic exploration

  • Climate change effects on the OCS

  • The need to protect environmentally sensitive areas.
MMS representatives noted at the hearing that it's been 25 years since seismic exploration of the Atlantic OCS, and that there are several pending application for oil and gas seismic exploration in the Atlantic OCS. MMS representatives stated that they also expected new seismic applications for the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

With regard to climate change, MMS described the "Challenge for Climate Change" with regard to the OCS as "Forecasting, planning for and mitigating:
  • Long-term ecosystem Changes --(and effects on species and habitats)

  • Changes in Renewable Energy Resources --e.g., Wind and Wave frequency, persistence, etc
  • .

  • Changes in Environmental Conditions and Impacts to Energy Infrastructure --(storms, sea level, wave heights, etc.)"
CRE commends MMS for its efforts to make these hearings open to the public by placing them online.

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