Press Releases - Press Releases
Print this page
Print this page


Vitter Asks Administration to Allow Old Rig to Remain as Artificial Reef in Gulf of Mexico
August 25, 2014

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter to Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Department of the Interior, requesting that the Department allow a collapsed structure to remain serving as an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Decommissioned, idle platforms that develop into artificial reefs are becoming an indispensable resource for aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Vitter. “While this particular site has yet to obtain official status as an artificial reef site, the thriving ecosystem that has grown around it is already playing an important role in growing and sustaining our Gulf fisheries. The Administration should back off and allow it to prosper.”

Currently, Interior is mandating the removal of the Ewing Banks 947A structure, which would disrupt the ecosystem that has been built around it. The State of Louisiana has requested that they exempt this rig from being removed so it can remain as a habitat for marine life. Interior denied the request and Vitter is asking them to reconsider.

In May 2013, In May 2013, at the beginning of this Congress, Vitter introduced S. 1079, the Artificial Reef Promotion Act, which would increase the utilization of decommissioned Gulf platforms as artificial reefs, as part of the Rigs to Reefs program. The Artificial Reef Promotion Act requires that twenty new reef planning areas be established after a year of enactment, including six off each of the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, three off the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, and five off of the coast of Florida.

Text of today’s letter is below. Click here for the PDF version.

August 25, 2014


Secretary Sally Jewell
U.S Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240


Dear Secretary Jewell,

I am writing to you today to ask your Department to reconsider a request made by the State of Louisiana to exempt the Freeport McMoran Oil & Gas’s Ewing Banks 947A (EW-947A) structure from the requirements of CFR § 250.1730 in order to allow for its continued use as an artificial reef.

It has been brought to my attention that your Department recently notified the State that you will not be granting this exemption.   

As you may know, EW-947A is a 4-pile structure located in federal waters, 70 miles offshore at a depth  of 477’.  Currently, the structure is no longer standing as it was toppled when Hurricane Ike came through the Gulf region in 2008. Since its collapse, parts of the structure, including the deck and debris have been removed, with only the jacket and several stubs remaining.  While the inadvertent toppling of the structure is regrettable, one positive outcome has been the increase in marine life that has begun using it as a habitat.   

The development of marine reefs with significant biodiversity is an unintended benefit of many of the idle rigs remaining in the Gulf of Mexico. Artificial reefs are becoming an indispensable resource for our Gulf fisheries.  While this particular site has yet to obtain official status as an artificial reef site, the ecosystem that it has created and supported around it is already playing an important role in growing and sustaining our Gulf fisheries.     

It is important that extra consideration be given to the request made by the State of Louisiana, and I ask that you please do so.  I also ask that you provide the following information by September 25, 2014.

1.    Please provide a full and detailed reasoning for your decision to reject the State’s request for an exemption.

2.    Please provide a list of alternative means, which the State may pursue that will result in as much of this structure remaining in place as safely as possible.

Thank you for your attention to this issue.  If you have any questions, please contact the Environment and Public Works Committee at (202) 224-6176.

 
Sincerely,

 
___________________
David Vitter
Ranking Member
Environment and Public Works Committee





August 2014 Press Releases

Majority Office
410 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20510-6175
phone: 202-224-8832
Minority Office
456 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20510-6175
phone: 202-224-6176