Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 10, 2018

Contact: Jamie Pang, (858) 699-4153,

House Republicans Advance Bill Weakening Marine Mammal Protections

Offshore Oil Development Would Be Expedited, Exempted From Endangered Species Act Review

WASHINGTON— House Republicans today advanced a bill that would side-step key environmental laws to fast-track offshore oil and gas exploration. The Committee on Natural Resources approved H.R. 3133, the Streamlining Environmental Approvals (SEA) Act of 2017, once again using a party-line vote to try to undermine environmental laws.

The bill would weaken the Marine Mammal Protection Act and expedite permitting for seismic oil-exploration surveys. Seismic airgun blasts can deafen and kill whales and dolphins. The legislation now moves to the full House floor for further consideration. 

“With this bill Republicans are declaring war on our oceans and all the animals that live there,” said Jamie Pang at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump’s recent proposal to open all our oceans to oil leases, and then this mean-spirited legislation, show Republicans will stop at nothing to benefit the oil industry.”

Nestled within the bill is a provision that also exempts harmful activities like seismic surveys from the stringent requirements of the Endangered Species Act to fully minimize any harm to endangered species. In short, the bill would create a giant loophole in the two most critical laws protecting imperiled marine mammals. 

“We should be increasing protections for our amazing ocean animals instead of treating them as inconveniences to special interests,” said Pang. “This shortsighted bill needs to be strongly opposed by coastal communities and lawmakers.”

The Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed in 1972 under President Nixon, with strong bipartisan support. The law protects individual marine mammals as well as their populations, and it applies to all people and vessels in U.S. waters. Not one marine mammal found in U.S. waters has gone extinct in the 45 years since the Act became law, even as human activities in the ocean have dramatically increased.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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