On Thursday, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) called on the Biden administration to rescind its proposed rule establishing a 28,000-square-mile Critical Habitat for the Rice’s whale within the Gulf of Mexico.
The Agency wrote: “We, NOAA Fisheries, propose to designate critical habitat for the endangered Rice’s whale pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act. The specific area proposed for designation as critical habitat is occupied by the whales and encompasses approximately 28,270.65 square miles of continental shelf and slope associated waters within the Gulf of Mexico. We have considered positive and negative economic, national security, and other relevant impacts of the proposed critical habitat.”
Tuberville claims that there is a lack of evidence presenting the need for such a large protected area.
Sen. Tuberville sent a letter to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Director Richard Spinrad and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Liz Klein. In the letter, Tuberville cited the severe economic impacts the rule would have for Alabama businesses and the oil and gas industry along the Gulf.
“Designating a Critical Habitat for the Rice’s whale throughout this expansive area will impose undue burdens and restrictions on all vessel traffic, especially in and out of the Port of Mobile in Mobile, AL,” said Sen. Tuberville. “The Port of Mobile covers over 4,000 acres, generates nearly 313,000 jobs, provides approximately $2 billion in state and local tax impacts, and $85 billion in economic value to Alabama as a whole.”