Letter to the Administrator of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
KERRY DEMANDS THAT NOAA PROHIBIT OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT IN STELLWAGEN BANK
Senator John Kerry sent a letter to the Administrator of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) demanding that he prohibit allow oil and gas development within the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.
Stellwagen Bank is one of the richest marine habitats in the world and is home to more than 17 marine mammal species, including the critically endangered right whale.
In 1982, Congress established a moratorium on oil and gas development activities within 200 miles of the East Coast. That moratorium was lifted on Tuesday, leaving the Sanctuary open to potential oil and gas development.
"Sixteen years ago, we designated Stellwagen as a marine sanctuary to preserve it for our children and our children's children. Recent findings show that the region is already suffering from various ecological threats. Any oil or gas development would only exacerbate those threats and endanger one of the most remarkable and productive fishing grounds in the world," said Senator Kerry. "I strongly urge Administrator Lautenbacher to prohibit such devastating measures and allow us to get back on the path of preserving the marine and ecology health of Massachusetts Bay."
The text of the letter is below:
I am writing to provide comments on the draft management plan for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Congress established the Sanctuary in 1992 to recognize and protect the area's tremendous productivity and biological diversity. Stellwagen Bank has served as the cultural and historical center of New England's storied whaling and fishing industries, and it is essential that we manage the area to conserve and maintain the productivity and integrity of the entire ecosystem.
I would like to firmly emphasize that oil and gas development is fundamentally incompatible with these management goals for Stellwagen Bank. As you know, in 1982, Congress established a moratorium on oil and gas development activities within 200 miles of the East Coast. That moratorium was lifted on Tuesday. While a Presidential withdrawal remains in place for all marine sanctuaries, that withdrawal could be removed at any time. That would leave a thin regulatory veneer protecting our nation's most prized and productive natural marine systems.
Stellwagen Bank species and habitat already are suffering from a variety of threats. A 2007 condition report found significant pressure on living resources, with 10 of 17 indicators receiving "fair" or "poor" ratings. In light of these significant and ongoing threats, Stellwagen Bank simply cannot afford any new risks associated with oil and gas development. I strongly encourage you to detail these risks in the final management plan and explicitly prohibit oil and gas development within the boundaries of the Sanctuary.
I would like to thank you for your efforts over the last several years to develop the draft management plan, which provides an excellent overview of the health of the Stellwagen Bank ecosystem. In the final management plan, I encourage you to propose management measures that are responsive to the severity of the threats facing the Sanctuary.
John F. Kerry
United States Senate