A Tale of Two Off Shore Seismic Reseach Projects
Much Easier to Look Tough By Suing NSF than Big Oil & Gas
a cloud of smoke created to conceal military operations.
a ruse designed to disguise someone’s real intentions or activities
“he tried to create a smokescreen by quibbling about the statistics”
Do you think there is a vast difference between a small scale, limited duration, National Science Foundation (NSF) study designed to provide climate change data to a prestigious University, versus a long term energy industry study of the entire Atlantic coast designed to promote off shore oil and gas development?
I tried to explain this in a prior post (see: Where is Gov. Christie on Obama Off Shore Drilling Plan?), but the feedback I’ve gotten on it suggests I failed completely (i.e. I unsuccessfully submitted it as an Op-Ed to NJ’s 3 largest papers that covered the story, and even coastal advocates are confused by what I’m driving at).
So let me now take another stab at it by comparing two off shore seismic research projects.
I am seriously baffled by this story, including such questions as:
1) How the Gov. can possibly be given a pass on it?; 2) How could the environmental groups have set the priorities and behaved the way they have?; 3) How have shore district Republicans – at a time when even NJ Congressional Democratic leaders like Senator Menendez and Congressman Pallone were blasting President Obama - managed to have kept silent and elevated their Christie loyalty above their Obama hatred; 4) do people really not know the difference between climate change research and oil and gas development? and 5) given all this, how could the press have ignored the story or provided false praise of the Governor?
A perfect example of exactly of how this is done may be found in this Bergen Record story, which included this observation:
Governor Christie has said he opposes drilling off the New Jersey coast, and has also expressed displeasure with the thought of oil rigs off Virginia or Delaware’s coast, just miles from Cape May.
I’m sure Cindy Zipf of COA, who is quoted in the story, conveniently spun and told Bergen Record reporter Jim O’Neill this deeply misleading historical “fact”. She did exactly the same thing on the off shore LNG issue.
Yes, that is technically true, Christie “has opposed” off shore drilling and “has expressed displeasure” (as in past tense), but Christie issued that statement back in March 2010 – before he was running for President.
So what is Christie’s position now? Do reporters lack phones to call Drewniak and ask?
Christie got away with the same dodge on off shore LNG and for the same reasons.
I don’t think any of this is an accident.
And, because the two different seismic issues emerged at the virtually same time, even I was confused by the media coverage, unable to distinguish the “Tale of Two Seismic Studies” – blinded by the Seismic Smokescreen.
What is each study about and who supports and opposes them?
I think the Gov. Christie has co-opted coastal groups – either effectively or actually via DEP $1 million grants or DEP supported federal grants (i.e. see this and this) – and made them loyal to the Gov. or of service by being actually on the Administration’s payroll – and that in return they are intentionally mounting a “Seismic Smokescreen”.
[Note: further evidence of this "Smokescreen" is the fact that, to cover their tracks, COA just updated their website to include the BOEM seismic testing, after ignoring that threat and focusing exclusively on NSF/NOAA research. Those are just historical facts COA can not deny or refute by posting a new website and taking the old incriminating posts down. Orwell's memory hole.]
I think the smokescreen is what explains the timing of their collective aggressive public campaign and litigation against one study and virtual silence on the other far more damaging one.
So if readers have a rational fact based explanation – other than the one I offer – by all means provide it openly in the comment section here or privately send me an email.
- A TALE OF TWO SEISMIC RESEARCH PROJECTS
Although you may not know it and may have been confused about this by reading the press coverage or following the advocacy of coastal groups (i.e. what I call a “Seismic Smokescreen”), there are two seismic research studies planned for off the NJ coast.
They are very different. But they share some common elements.
Seismic studies used sound canons to blast tremendously loud sound waves under ocean waters – the echo back provides data regarding the subsurface geological conditions.
Those sonic blasts harm sea life, especially marine mammals. So, these kinds of studies are to be avoided.
Now let’s just very briefly summarize and compare and contrast these two seismic studies, based on rational evaluation criteria, in terms of their comparative : 1) research objectives 2) geographic scope 3) temporal duration, 4) adverse impacts 5) likely future application, and 6) the sponsors of the research, in terms of who is conducting and will likely benefit from the research and their scientific integrity.
Lets also look at the opposition these studies have generated in terms of 1) political opposition from coastal groups (i.e COA) and government officials, 2) litigation, and 3) media coverage
Let’s call these two studies A and B.
Our null hypothesis is that the expected outcome is that the most harmful study will generate the most coastal group opposition, litigation challenges, and negative media coverage.
We will compare this null hypothetical expected outcome with the actual outcome, and try to explain the deviation between expected and observed outcomes. That’s the scientific method we learned. Test the null hypothesis. Compare expected versus observed outcomes.
So lets look at Study A first.
According to the Federal Register, Study A is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and conducted by NOAA, Columbia, and Rutgers University. It is designed to provide data regarding climate change.:
The purpose of the survey is to collect and analyze data on the arrangement of sediments deposited during times of changing global sea level from roughly 60 million years ago to present.
The findings of Study A would lead to a greater understanding of the issue of climate change. It is limited in scope to a small segment off the NJ shore and would be conducted for at most a few weeks.
Pursuant to this selection, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will consider permit applications for oil & gas geological and geophysical activities throughout the Mid Atlantic and South Atlantic planning areas.
In addition to being intended to promote oil and gas exploitation, Study B by BOEM would be designed by, conducted by, and benefit the oil, gas, and mineral corporate interests.
While the scope of Study A is limited to a small segment off the NJ shore and of very short duration, but stuffy B is huge, not limited in time, and would encompass virtually the entree Atlantic Coast:
These Planning Areas extend from the Delaware Bay to just south of Cape Canaveral and from the inner edge of Federal waters along that coastline to 403 miles offshore.
The results of Study B would be concocted by the oil & gas industry, benefit them, and likely lead to off shore oil and gas drilling.
- The Comparison
So, given the vast differences in Study A versus Studty B and their vastly different impacts and likely future outcomes, we now ask the obvious question:
Do you think there is a vast difference between a small scale, limited duration, study designed to provide climate change data to a prestigious University, versus a long term oil industry study of the entire Atlantic coast to promote off shore oil and gas development?
Which study received more coastal group opposition, litigation, criticism by public officials, and media coverage.
And the Answer is:
NOAA Study A was opposed strongly by a huge public campaign waged by COA . Governor Christie’s DEP filed litigation to block A, and immediately filed an appeal when the Court rejected that challenge. The media has extensively covered Study
As a result, the media and the public think Gov. Christie is opposed to off shore seismic testing.
But what about BOEM off shore Study B to promote energy development? Not so much.
What explains the difference between expected and observed outcomes?
Hw could coastal groups out so much emphasis into A while ignoring B?
Why is Gov. Christie suing to block A but silent on B?
See my prior post for links to the reactions.
So can can anyone else explain this as anything other than a smokescreen, intentionally designed too confuse the media and the public about Governor Christie’s position on off shore seismic testing?
How does tis NOT meet the classic definition of “smokescreen?
[Update - Gov. Christie is not the only one to play these political games. Yes, he used his Attack on the NOAA seismic study to divert the media from the tougher issue of off shore oil drilling, manipulate support from his coastal friends at COA, and look good while doing it.
Obama played a similar cynical game by announcing off shore wind leasing, hoping that would divert media and win environmental group praise, just before his friday afternoon press dump announcing the off shore oil drilling seismic initiative by BOEM.
I condemn both politicians and criticize the, at best, unwitting dupes in the environmental community who enable this cynical crap and the media stenographers who know better. - end update]