WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Western Caucus Chair Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) joined Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in introducing the Warding Off Hostile Administrative Lease Efforts (WHALE) Act to prevent the U.S. Departments of Commerce and the Interior from issuing maritime rules related to the Rice’s Whale that would shut down offshore energy development and impede military activities.
This legislation seeks to restrict both the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) efforts to issue requirements on offshore leases and leaseholders as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) rulemaking on critical habitat for the Rice’s Whale and the impacts that could result from that on a broader set of stakeholders. The Biden administration’s punitive efforts to restrict oil and gas transportation in the Gulf of Mexico hurts domestic energy production and threatens the livelihoods of energy workers throughout the west.
“Instead of placating Green New Deal activists, Washington needs to be doing everything we can to restore our nation’s energy independence,” said Lummis. “We are facing an energy crisis in this country with sky-high gas prices that have increased the cost of everything and added fuel to the inflationary fire. The WHALE Act will effectively thwart the Biden administration’s latest regulatory excuse it created out of thin air to target domestic energy production.”
Click here to view the legislation.
The Whale Act is supported by the National Offshore Industry Association (NOIA) and Gulf Energy Alliance.
The WHALE Act:
- Prevents the Secretaries of Commerce and Interior from issuing rules or offshore oil and gas lease requirements or recommendations that establish vessel speed or vessel operational restrictions.
- Requires the Departments to complete a study demonstrating that any mitigation protocols developed to protect Rice’s Whales (RWs) in the Gulf of Mexico will not have a negative impact on supply chains, United States offshore energy production and generation, military activities, including readiness, and United States commercial and recreational fishing or maritime commerce.
- Requires the Secretary of Commerce to develop mitigation protocols that make use of real-time location monitoring and location information.
- Prohibits mitigation protocols and forbids restrictions on evening transit, vessel speed or vessel operations.
Earlier this year, a coalition of radical environmental groups filed a petition with NOAA to establish a year-round 10-knot (Approx 11.5 mph) vessel speed restriction zone and other vessel-related mitigation measures in the Rice’s whale “core” habitat area in the Gulf of Mexico.
In response, NOAA published a proposed rule in July to establish critical habitat for the species where the agency acknowledged that oil and gas as well as military activities were among the activities impacted by this proposed critical habitat designation.