Senator's Push Gets Extension for Better Science, More Accurate Conclusions, "You Have to Allow for Time to Weigh In"
Between Christmas and New Year's Eve of 2013, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) opened a one month nationwide window for comments on its study results of acoustic noise on marine mammals. However, given the timing very few Alaskans or Americans knew about the opportunity -- and Senator Lisa Murkowski called it an "unwelcome holiday surprise" while pressing the administration for more time.
Today, NOAA responded to her call and added 45 days to the comment period for interested parties to participate, which was initially scheduled to end next Monday. The new deadline will be March 13th.
On December 27th, NOAA released its Draft Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammals. This guidance would be used by federal agencies and other stakeholders to predict a marine mammal's response to sound exposure from a wide-range of activities, including construction, shipping, resource development, and military operations.
"I want to thank NOAA for reconsidering the amount of time they were providing the public to comment on this critical issue. When you think about Alaska, this guidance will impact our coastal communities, the maritime sector, the transit of goods, the fishing industry, oil and gas -- basically anyone who is out on the water," said Murkowski. "If you are going to have good process and get meaningful feedback on such a complex issue, you have to allow for time to weigh in."