[MARMAM] Posted: Final Programmatic Biological Opinion on the Federally-Regulated Oil and Gas Program in the Gulf of Mexico

Allison Hernandez - NOAA Federal allison.hernandez at noaa.gov
Wed Mar 18 07:41:48 PDT 2020

The *Final Programmatic Biological Opinion on the Federally-Regulated Oil
and Gas Program in the Gulf of Mexico* was posted to
the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) subheading.

● Under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), federal agencies
must consult with NOAA Fisheries on activities that may affect ESA-listed
species. These inter-agency consultations are designed to help federal
agencies in fulfilling their duty to ensure that their actions do not
jeopardize the continued existence of a species, or destroy or adversely
modify designated critical habitat.
● ESA Section 7 requires NOAA Fisheries’ to issue biological opinions on
how federal agencies’ actions affect ESA-listed species and critical
habitat. Where appropriate, these biological opinions provide an exemption
for the otherwise-prohibited “take” of ESA-listed species, along with
reasonable and prudent measures and terms and conditions to minimize
impacts from such taking, which the federal action agency must comply with
to have the exemption. If NOAA Fisheries determines that an action is
likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species, the ESA
requires the biological opinion to provide a “Reasonable and Prudent
Alternative” that can be taken by the action agency to avoid jeopardy.
● At BOEM’s request, NOAA Fisheries consulted with the Department of the
Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and
Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (USEPA) on their actions associated with the Gulf of Mexico oil and
gas program, and with NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Protected Resources’
Permits and Conservation Division on their proposed regulations under the
Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) for geophysical surveys in the Gulf of
● BOEM, the lead action agency for this consultation, makes decisions about
energy development in the waters of the outer continental shelf, and has
responsibility for permitting geophysical surveys. Efforts to explore for
hydrocarbons using this technique were renewed in 2017 with Presidential
Executive Order 13795, Implementing an America First Offshore Energy
Strategy, which encourages energy exploration and production that fosters
energy security and resilience for Americans, while ensuring those
activities are safe and environmentally responsible. BOEM’s proposed action
includes the oil and gas program from exploration and construction to
production and decommissioning over the next 50 years.

*Allison Hernandez*

Biologist, ESA Interagency Cooperation Division
Office of Protected Resources
National Marine Fisheries Service
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
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