Oil exploration plans in eastern Russia are a serious threat to gray whales. The Rosneft company is about to begin a seismic survey around Sakhalin island, a place where these whales come each summer to feed. This kind of seismic oil survey work, which produces high-intensity sound pulses, would seriously disrupt their feeding.
There are only about 130 animals left and only 20 breeding females. In BBC News, Richard Black quotes Greg Donovan, of the International Whaling Commission, as saying that the survey is planned for the period “when there’s probably the highest density of gray whales and particularly mother-calf pairs.” His IWC committee is requesting the Russians to postpone the survey until early next year, when there are as few whales there as possible.” Donovan and his team are trying to locate the breeding grounds, which are thought to be close to the Chinese coast. The problem is, they may be in a military zone.
Law professor Jeffrey J. Rachlinski says that Judge Martin Feldman now has something in common with Major League Baseball umpire Jim Joyce: Both have blown an important call. Joyce’s failing cost pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game, but Judge Feldman’s decision yesterday to order the Department of the Interior to lift a six month moratorium on deep water drilling puts the Gulf Coast at risk of a future catastrophe.
Rachlinski says, “The Deepwater Horizon accident shows that oil companies do not have a coherent plan for responding to a blowout. If such a plan existed, we would have seen it implemented by BP. The reality is that drilling for oil in the Gulf is more dangerous than we thought and more precautions are in order before proceeding [and] the Department of the Interior’s moratorium is the best chance to force the oil companies operating in the Gulf to identify a realistic plan for addressing a deep-water spill of the type we are now witnessing. The moratorium is best way of motivating the oil companies to craft such a plan.
“Fortunately, unlike Major League Baseball, the Federal Courts have a review process. The Department may appeal the ruling, or even re-issue it with further justification.”
We can’t tell you what was behind the baseball ruling, but we CAN tell you what’s really going on with the oil spill in the Gulf.
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