Rep. Farenthold steps up for Gulf anglers
CCA applauds Texas Congressman’s strong opposition to misguided Idle Iron directive
In the latest display of opposition to an unpopular federal directive, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tx) is calling for the Department of Interior to reconsider its Idle Iron policy that stands to dismantle critical marine habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. The Idle Iron directive, issued by the Department in the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, orders non-producing oil and gas rigs and other structures in offshore waters to be removed within five years of the issuance of the directive.
“I believe this directive is merely a knee-jerk reaction to the Gulf oil spill and creates more problems than it solves,” Farenthold says in the letter to Ken Salazar, Secretary of the U.S. Interior Department. “While legislative and scientific efforts are being made to preserve these valuable habitats, rigs are being pulled up left and right, leaving no time for finding a way to salvage these ecosystems. Instead of pre-emptively removing the rigs, the Department of Interior, specifically the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, should work to quicken the approval of these rigs for artificial reefing purposes and allow for additional time to determine a safe and environmentally sound method to reef these structures in place.”
Farenthold’s letter follows a similar letter from Texas Gov. Rick Perry as well as a recent decision by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to begin an amendment to have rigs and related structures declared Essential Fish Habitat. Marine conservationists are working to generate a groundswell of opposition to the Department’s directive and save what is generally regarded as the largest artificial reef system in the world.
“We are encouraged by Congressman Farenthold’s letter and grateful that he has stepped up to oppose this destructive policy,” said Pat Murray, president of CCA National. “Anglers know how important those structures are to marine life, and the fight to keep those rigs in place as artificial reefs is a critical issue to our members.”