363 lecture 40 - 2008

363 lecture 40 - 2008 - White House Blocked Rule Issued to...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–4. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
White House Blocked Rule Issued to Shield Whales White House officials for more than a year have blocked a rule aimed at protecting endangered North Atlantic right whales by challenging the findings of government scientists, according to documents obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The documents, which were mailed to the environmental group by an unidentified National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official, illuminate a struggle that has raged between the White House and NOAA for more than a year. In February 2007, NOAA issued a final rule aimed at slowing ships traversing some East Coast waters to 10 knots or less during parts of the year to protect the right whales, but the White House has blocked the rule from taking effect
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
North Atlantic right whales, whose surviving population numbers fewer than 400, are one of the most endangered species on Earth, and scientists have warned that the loss of just one more pregnant female could doom the species. Some shipping companies have opposed the NOAA proposal, saying slowing their vessels will cost the industry money. The documents, which House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) released yesterday, show that the White House Council of Economic Advisers and Vice President Cheney's office repeatedly questioned whether the rule was needed. Waxman, who sent a letter to the White House asking for an explanation, said the exchange "appears to be the latest instance of the White House ignoring scientists and other experts." In one document, the Council of Economic Advisers questioned "the reliability of analysis in the published literature on which NOAA is basing its position." The council conducted its own analysis and concluded that "the relationship between [vessel] speed and [whale] injury . . . may not be as strong of a relationship as is suggested in published papers." NOAA scientists were not swayed, writing in response, "The basic facts remain that (1) there is a direct relationship between speed and death/serious injury, and (2) at vessel speeds at or below 10 knots the probability of death/serious injury is greatly reduced."
Background image of page 2
A separate document reveals that Cheney's staff argued "that we have no evidence (i.e., hard data) that lowering the speeds of 'large ships' will actually make a difference." NOAA again fired back, writing that there was "no basis to overturn our previous conclusion that imposing a speed limit on large vessels would be beneficial to whales." Since NOAA initially proposed the regulation, at least three right whales have died from ship strikes and two have been wounded by propellers. Amy Knowlton, a scientist at the New England Aquarium who has studied right whales, said the documents show that "the rule really is based on good science. NOAA has done a very good job in sticking to its guns on this." Kristen Hellmer, spokeswoman for the White House Council for Environmental Quality, said in a statement that the office is reviewing the Waxman letter. "We will make an appropriate response to the committee," she said, adding that
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 4
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 10/22/2008 for the course BSCI 363 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at Maryland.

Page1 / 32

363 lecture 40 - 2008 - White House Blocked Rule Issued to...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 4. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online