June 21, 2019
Late yesterday afternoon, the U.S. House approved FY20 budgets for the Department of Interior and the Department of Commerce.
Two of the amendments were extremely important and were offered by SC Representative Joe Cunningham (D).
The first was approved by a voice vote and would block the Dept. of Commerce/NOAA/NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) from issuing Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs) for the Atlantic during FY20. IHA are required before the final seismic permits can be approved by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
This HUGE and here is why.
The IHAs have already been approved and BOEM could issue the final permits to begin seismic testing at any time.
However, the lawsuit brought by the SC Small Business Chamber, 16 SC coastal cities and a slew of conservation organizations (also joined by SC’s Attorney General) is challenging the legality of the IHAs.
Should that lawsuit be successful and Cunningham’s amendment becomes law, no IHAs could be approved by Commerce/NOAA/NMFS until a new FY 21 budget is approved.
Cunningham’s other amendment was to the Dept. of Interior-Environment budget. This amendment had a recorded vote and was also approved by the House.
This amendment would prevent BOEM from issuing permits for seismic exploration in the Atlantic during FY20. Of note, Representative Tom Rice (R-SC) voted for this amendment. We encourage you to contact Representative Rice and tell him thanks (202-225-9895).
Three other amendments to the Dept. of Interior-Environment budget were also approved. These amendments collectively would ban offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic, along the Florida coastline and in the Pacific during FY20.
Thanks to all for contacting the Representatives regarding these amendments.
On to the Senate.