Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness –
U.S. Navy publicly released the Final Environmental Impact Statements/Overseas Environmental Impact Statements (EIS/OEISs) Aug. 30 for planned training and testing activities in the waters off the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, Southern California and Hawaii.
The Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) and the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing (HSTT) areas, which are covered by the EIS/OEIS documents, are of vital importance as they encompass over 80 percent of the training and testing the Navy conducts worldwide. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) permits from environmental regulatory agencies would authorize the Navy to continue training and testing in these areas from 2014-2019.
"This is a major milestone that supports the Navy's mission of operating forward to keep the global commons open and accessible while respecting the environment," said Rear Adm. Kevin Slates, director of the Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division.
The final EIS/OEISs combine training and testing areas from earlier documents and consider new science, platforms and activities. Estimates of the total number of marine mammals that have the potential to be affected by Navy activities have therefore increased compared with earlier EIS documents. However, the best available science and more than 60 years of similar training and testing in these areas demonstrate that the activities proposed will continue to have minimal effects on marine mammal populations.
"The Navy's analysis indicates that while large numbers of marine mammals may be affected by sonar and explosives activities, over 99.9 percent of the animals affected will experience only temporary behavioral effects that do not result in injury," said Rear Adm. Slates.
The Navy released the AFTT and HSTT draft EIS/OEISs on May 11, 2012, and accepted public comments through July 10, 2012. Proposed rules from the National Marine Fisheries Service were published in the Federal Register on January 31, 2013.
The AFTT and HSTT final EIS/OEISs are available for review at www.AFTTEIS.com and www.HSTTEIS.com. Hard copies of the documents are also available at local public libraries.
To learn more about the Navy's energy, environment, and climate change initiatives, visit http://greenfleet.dodlive.mil/home.