Tag: blasting

Federal government allowing permits for seismic blasting in Atlantic Ocean to expire

All manner of marine life, from plankton to the largest of whales, will be spared from months of nonstop thunderous seismic blasts that could kill or harm them because the oil and gas explorers and the federal government are allowing their permits to expire on Nov. 30 — and it would take at least a year for them to obtain new ones — should they wish to, environmentalists say.

“If you had told me two years ago 2020 would begin and end without any seismic air gun testing I would have been elated; that’s why I’m elated now,” Steve Mashuda, the Seattle-based managing attorney for oceans at Earthjustice, said by telephone.

The San Francisco-based nonprofit is one of several environmental nonprofits that in December 2018 sued in a South Carolina federal court to stop the tests — twice as loud as a jet engine — sought from New Jersey’s Cape May to Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Though New York and New England were not included, the blasts are so powerful they travel thousands of miles. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and a number of other East Coast local, state and federal officials opposed them — the first step in the Trump administration’s initial plan to open the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas firms.

“Our position has not changed,” a Cuomo spokesman, Jordan Levine, said by email.

Late last month, President Donald Trump said Virginia and North Carolina will be part of the 10-year moratorium on offshore drilling in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida he announced earlier that month.

In their lawsuit, the environmentalists said the National Marine Fisheries Service violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by permitting the five seismic testing firms to “to harm or harass” marine life.

While the lawsuit ground on, public support for drilling off the Eastern Seaboard waned or reversed, as local and state officials were convinced oil spills and scenery-wrecking rigs could threaten critical tourism and fishing industries.

The past few years of increasingly powerful storms have pushed coastal communities toward viewing rising seas as a grave danger burning fossil fuels will only worsen. Declining oil prices — down as by almost two-thirds by some measures from highs hit earlier this decade — also have sliced drillers’ interest.

Though wind turbines kill a half-million birds every year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates, because both the turbines and birds rely on the strong winds along migration routes, turbine developers do not need seismic tests to moor the turbines to the sea bed.

The seismic tests that were sought, which are used to find oil and gas deposits under the sea floor, were particularly hazardous because the firms were focused in some of the same areas, which greatly

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In ad blasting Biden for 1994 crime bill, Trump undermines law and order case

A new Trump campaign commercial makes an engaging pitch for support from black Americans, but it repeats an attack against opponent Joe Biden that is flagrantly inaccurate and egregiously hypocritical.

a group of people walking on a city street

© Provided by Washington Examiner

The ad begins with an attractive black couple saying President Trump’s tenure has been beneficial for their business. So far, so good. The ad pivots, though, to an attack on the 1994 crime bill that Biden helped negotiate while chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The claims in the ad are just plain false.

“Joe Biden wrote the crime bill,” it says. (No, he didn’t, but he did help oversee its legislative progress.) “Hundreds of thousands of black Americans were put in jail for minor offenses.” As those words cross the screen, the wife in the ad says that “the one thing Joe Biden has done in 47 years in Washington, D.C., has made it difficult for black people.”

Every element of that portion of the commercial is wrong. It makes the common but mistaken assumption that the 1994 bill cracked down hard on low-level drug-possession offenses and the like, and that blacks disproportionately suffered.

“The 1994 Crime Bill did not and is not driving so-called ‘mass incarceration,’” said Sean Kennedy, a visiting fellow specializing in criminal justice issues at the conservative Maryland Public Policy Institute. “Most of that law’s provisions applied to violent and sexual offenses at the federal level and did not impact federal drug offenses or state law … More than 99.9% of drug-related offenders are sentenced for trafficking [significant drug dealing], not possession, and a quarter of them are foreigners running drug operations or smuggling narcotics.”

The statistics overwhelmingly bear that out. Yes, federal incarceration has grown from 83,000 in 1995 to 182,000 today, but the vast bulk of the increase in federal incarceration has come for either weapons offenses, immigration-related crimes, white-collar crimes, sex crimes, or trafficking. In fact, of those 182,000 federal inmates today, a grand total of 247, barely more than a tenth of a single percent, are there for mere possession of illegal narcotics.

As for the advertisement’s claim about black Americans being particularly harmed by the 1994 bill, that’s just not true. While blacks still make up a significantly greater share of the prison population than of the U.S. population as a whole, the percentage of black inmates to total inmates has dropped substantially in the past 25 years. The percentage of white prisoners has increased, and that of Hispanics has jumped significantly. And, to whatever extent federal law even indirectly affects state imprisonment practices, the trend of combined federal and state imprisonment of blacks is downward as well. I don’t have the following particular statistic from 1995 to 2000, but since the turn of the century, the imprisonment rate among black women has dropped 47% and that among black men has fallen by 22%.

Again, the reason these results don’t match the ad’s claims is that the bill itself wasn’t even remotely aimed at

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