Category Archives: Oceans

Offshore Oil/Gas Drilling in Focus at March 5, 2018, Forum at Old Dominion University in Norfolk

Offshore Drilling: Perspectives to Consider” was the topic of the March 5, 2018, Blue Planet Forum, sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Old Dominion University.  The two-hour forum was held at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.  One of the featured speakers was Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

For more information, visit; or contact the Bay Foundation by phone (888) 728-3229 or e-mail to

Land Loss on Tangier Island and a Local Teen’s Documentation Through Photography are Featured in December 2017 Bay Journal Article

Issues of loss of land on Tangier Island, Va., through current coastal erosion and the threat of rising sea level are the topic of “‘I’ll never leave this place, and I hope this place will never leave me’,” by Rona Kobell in the December 2017 issue of Bay Journal.

The article focuses specifically on Cameron Evans, a 17-year-old (at the time of the article) native of the island who uses photography to document land areas being lost.

The article is available online at, or contact Bay Journal at P.O. Box 222, Jacobus, PA 17407-022; phone (717) 428-2819.

Offshore Oil/Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024 Proposed by Interior Department on January 4, 2018; Public Hearing in Virginia was Feb. 21, 2018, in Virginia

On January 4, 2018, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a Draft Program Proposal for the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) for 2019-2024.  According to the Interior Department’s news release on the proposal (Secretary Zinke Announces Plan For Unleashing America’s Offshore Oil and Gas Potential, 1/4/18), the draft program would “make over 90 percent of the total OCS acreage and more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available to consider for future exploration and development. By comparison, the current program puts 94 percent of the OCS off limits. In addition, the program proposes the largest number of lease sales in U.S. history.”  The proposed program would allow three lease sales in the Mid-Atlantic Region, which includes waters off the coast of Virginia.

Following is an additional excerpt from the Interior Department news release:

“The Draft Proposed Program (DPP) includes 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas – 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, 7 in the Pacific Region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and 9 in the Atlantic Region. This is the largest number of lease sales ever proposed for the National OCS Program’s 5-year lease schedule.…

“Release of the DPP is an early step in a multi-year process to develop a final National OCS Program for 2019-2024.  Today’s draft proposal was informed by approximately 816,000 comments from a wide variety of stakeholders, including state governments, federal agencies, public interest groups, industry, and the public.  Before the program is finalized, the public will have additional opportunities to provide input. The 2017-2022 Five Year Program will continue to be implemented until the new National OCS Program is approved.…

“Inclusion of an area in the DPP is not a final indication that it will be included in the approved Program or offered in a lease sale, because many decision points still remain….

“The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires the Secretary of the Interior, through BOEM, to prepare and maintain a schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales in federal waters, indicating the size, timing, and location of leasing activity that would best meet national energy needs for the five-year period following Program approval.  In developing the National OCS Program, the Secretary is required to achieve an appropriate balance among the potential for environmental impacts, for discovery of oil and gas, and for adverse effects on the coastal zone.  BOEM currently manages about 2,900 active OCS leases, covering almost 15.3 million acres – the vast majority in the Gulf of Mexico.  In fiscal year 2016, oil and gas leases on the OCS accounted for approximately 18 percent of domestic oil production and 4 percent of domestic natural gas production….

“The DPP proposes 9 lease sales in the Atlantic Region (3 sales each for the Mid- and South Atlantic, 2 for the North Atlantic, and 1 for the Straits of Florida).  There have been no sales in the Atlantic since 1983 and there are no existing leases.

NEXT STEPS: In conjunction with the announcement of the DPP, the Department is also publishing a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.  Public meetings will be held around the country starting on January 16, 2018, to receive comments on the DPP and to inform the Draft Programmatic EIS. Specific dates, times, and venues will be posted on BOEM’s website at  Using the information received from these public meetings, BOEM will prepare a Proposed Program (PP), which will be published for public comment, to be followed by a Proposed Final Program (PFP). In addition, the Department will prepare a Draft Programmatic EIS to be published concurrently with the PP, and a Final EIS with the PFP.  The DPP and the NOI will be available for public comment for 60 days following the publication of the documents in the Federal Register.”

More information from the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program, including maps, is available online at  The schedule of public meetings (Jan. 16-Mar. 8, 2018) on the 2019-2024 proposal is online at

Additional source for this post:
Virginia, North Carolina are back in play for offshore oil and gas drilling, Virginian-Pilot, 1/4/18.

Additional News Media Items on the 2019-2024 Proposed Program
Governor Northam Statement on Single Public Meeting in Virginia to Discuss Offshore Drilling Plan, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 2/21/18.

Feds reset 5-year plan, but oil recovery is a “15-year story,” Energywire, 1/5/18 (subscription required for access; trial subscription may be available).

Trump admin intends to roll back ban on offshore drilling
, CNN, 1/4/18.

How Trump could vastly expand offshore drilling
, PBS NewsHour, 1/4/18.

Previous Water Central News Grouper items on offshore oil and gas leasing are available at this link:

For historical information on the issue of offshore oil and gas in Virginia, going back at least to the 1970s, please see the following two articles in 2006 in the Virginia Water Central Newsletter, from the Virginia Water Resources Research Center:
“Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration Report,” February 2006, pp. 14-17, online at (includes excerpts from Virginia’s 2006 “Study of the Possibility of Exploring for Natural Gas in the Coastal Areas of the Commonwealth”); and
“Eyes and Ayes on Off-shore Energy Exploration,” September 2006, pp. 1-4, online at

Atlantic Tropical Storm Season-end Report for 2017 Issued December 1 by the National Hurricane Center; Composite Video of Satellite Images Available in 11/30/17 News Release

On December 1, 2017, the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, published its final monthly summary and its season-end report for the 2017 tropical storm season in the Atlantic Basin (North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico).  The Atlantic season runs June 1-November 30.  The report is available online at

A November 30, 2017, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) news release on the 2017 Atlantic tropical storm season is available online at  The news release includes a composite video (4 minutes/31 seconds) showing satellite views of the entire 2017 tropical storm season; labels of named storms appear as the storms take shape, and the passing months are indicated.  It’s worth watching!

In November 2017, one named storm, Tropical Storm Rina, formed in the Atlantic basin.  The Hurricane Center’s report noted that during the period 1981-2010, a named tropical storm has formed in November in about 7 out of every 10 years, and a hurricane has formed about every other year.

Overall during 2017, 17 named storms occurred, 10 of which became hurricanes; six of those became “major” hurricanes (Category 3 or above); one unnamed tropical depression also formed in 2017.  The annual average seen during the 30-year period 1981-2010 is 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.  The report also noted that based on “accumulated cyclone energy” for 2017—combining strength and duration of storms—2017 was the most active season since 2005 and the seventh most active on record, following 1933, 2005, 1893, 1926, 1995, and 2004.

Below is the Hurricane Center’s list of all tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes in the Atlantic basin in 2017, with their dates of occurrence and maximum wind speeds (H = hurricane; MH = major hurricane; TD = tropical depression; TS = tropical storm):
TS Arlene – Apr. 19-21 Apr – 50 mph
TS Bret – Jun. 19-20 – 45 mph
TS Cindy – Jun. 20-23 – 60 mph
TD Four – Jul. 5-7 – 30 mph
TS Don – Jul. 17-18 – 50 mph
TS Emily – Jul. 31-Aug. 1 – 45 mph
H Franklin – Aug. 6-10 – 85 mph
H Gert – Aug. 13-17 – 105 mph
MH Harvey – Aug. 17-Sep. 1 – 130 mph
MH Irma – Aug. 30-Sep. 12 – 185 mph
MH Jose – Sep. 5-22 – 155 mph
H  Katia – Sep. 5-9 – 105 mph
MH Lee – Sep. 15-30 – 115 mph
MH Maria – Sep. 16-30 – 175 mph
H  Nate – Oct. 4-9 – 90 mph
MH Ophelia – Oct. 9-15 – 115 mph
TS Philippe – Oct. 28-29 – 60 mph
TS Rina – Nov. 6-9 – 60 mph

When completed, reports on individual 2017 storms (including tracks) will be available online at  The archive of advisories on these storms is available online at

Below is the Hurricane Center’s graph of preliminary (subject to verification) tracks of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes in 2017, as of 12-1-17.
Tropical Storms 2017
Other Water Central News Grouper tropical storm reports for 2017 and several previous years are available online at and

Harvey photo

August 25, 2017 (9:15 a.m. EDT) satellite photo of Hurricane Harvey, approaching landfall in Texas. Photo taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Web site at on on 8/25/17, 10:30 a.m. NOTE: Z, or Greenwich Mean Time, shown on the photo is 4 hours ahead of EDT and 5 hours ahead of EST.

The Challenges of Wave Energy – An Overview on the Nov. 12, 2017, PBS NewsHour

On November 12, 2017, the PBS NewsHour broadcast “Scientists work to harness power from Hawaii’s waves,” available online at  Focusing on work being done in Hawaii, the 8 min./6 sec. segment examines efforts by scientists and entrepreneurs to develop technology that can generate electricity from ocean waves at an economically viable, commercial scale.  The report includes comments on the challenges of capturing wave energy from George Hagerman, a senior research associate with Virginia Tech’s Center for Energy and the Global Environment.

Hurricane Maria Information Sources as of Sep. 25, 2017

National Hurricane Center (NHC) information on Maria is available online at  The NHC Web site for advisories, tracks, etc., of all current tropical storms is

Following are links to some news media sources that covered Maria:
Miami Herald, online at;
Puerto Rico Monitor (English), online at;
USA Today, online at;
Virgin Islands Consortium, online at;
Virgin Islands Daily News, online at
List of seven Puerto Rico news media, online at

Following are links to other sources of information on Irma:
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):;
Governor of Puerto Rico:;
Governor of Virgin Islands:

Below is a graph of Maria’s wind history, as of 2 p.m. EDT on September 25, taken from the NHC Web site at; followed by a satellite photo of Maria on September 25 as the storm was off the coast of the Carolinas, taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Web site at, on 9/25/17, 11 a.m. EDT.
Maria windsMaria photo

Virginia State and Locality Responses to Hurricane-affected Areas in August-September 2017, According to Governor’s News Release on September 22, 2017

On September 22, 2017, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe authorized the Virginia National Guard to send 120 soldiers to the U.S. Virgin Islands as part of the response efforts among several states and agencies to Hurricane Maria and earlier to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  Following is an excerpt from the Governor’s Office news release on the Virgin Islands deployment; the excerpt also includes information on deployment by state agencies and local response teams to other areas for previous storms in 2017.

Except Begins

Governor McAuliffe today has authorized the Virginia National Guard to send 120 soldiers to the U.S. Virgin Islands to join a multi-state, multi-agency response effort to recent hurricanes.  The Commonwealth of Virginia continues to send needed supplies, personnel and expertise into the storm-ravaged areas to assist with recovery and give emergency managers on the ground a rest from the relentless demands of their jobs helping others deal with these catastrophic events.

An advance team arrived in the region on September 18, 2017, just before Hurricane Maria made landfall.  The 120 soldiers authorized today are assigned to the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and will deploy in the next week as the mission command headquarters to synchronize the response and coordinate logistical support.  Up to 400 additional soldiers are scheduled to follow soon after to conduct humanitarian assistance, clear roads, and distribute essential supplies to citizens.  Virginia National Guard soldiers will be deployed on the ground by the U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp to get assistance where it is most needed. …

Virginia has coordinated 10 missions of aid to these regions [listed below], not including countless assistance efforts coordinated by religious and non-profit organizations based in Virginia.  The largest single mission is readying to deploy this week, including the hundreds of Virginia National Guard personnel deploying to the Virgin Islands to assist with the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. …Since Hurricane Harvey struck Texas last month, Virginia has been providing emergency management and response assistance across the southeastern portions of the nation.  Missions can be coordinated through federal partners such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), or through a cooperative agreement between states called the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), through which impacted states can input their needs for assistance and other states can quickly mobilize resources to meet those needs.  Logistics and financial reimbursement are then coordinated through the EMAC system. …

*In late August, the Virginia National Guard sent approximately 40 soldiers and six helicopters to Texas to assist with Hurricane Harvey recovery operations, and after transporting medical personnel and supplies, they safely returned to Virginia in early September.

*On September 18, a joint incident management team comprised of 15 individuals from across the Commonwealth deployed to assist with emergency operations center management in Monroe County, Florida (Florida Keys).  The team will provide command and control support in the region through early October.

*A Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) volunteer coordinator is currently working in Texas to assist with coordination of thousands of volunteers arriving in the area through non-profit and religious organizations.  This mission is slated to continue through the end of September.

*Roanoke’s 17-person Strike Team 6 deployed to Texas on August 30and spent more than a week conducting water rescues of civilians trapped in the rising flood waters from Hurricane Harvey.

*The 14-person Fairfax Task Force 1 deployed to Texas on a mission organized by the federal government to assist in swift water rescues of civilians from August 27 to September 6.

*Virginia Beach Virginia Task Force 2 deployed to Texas to assist in federal government organized assistance, providing swift water rescue support through September 5.

*A blended incident management team comprised of emergency managers from across the Commonwealth deployed to Texas from September 1 to September 9 to provide emergency management command and control support.

*Virginia’s Task Force 2 from Virginia Beach deployed to Puerto Rico under a federal response effort to provide on-the-ground emergency response support for both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.  Personnel originally deployed September 4 in anticipation of Irma, and 16 additional personnel were deployed on September 7 to address the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria.

*Virginia’s Task Force 1 from Fairfax deployed to Alabama September 6 to provide immediate on the ground support following the impacts of Hurricane Irma.

*The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Restoration and Cleanup Strike Team deployed to Florida in late August to assist with on-the-ground cleanup efforts from Hurricane Irma.

To learn how to help those who have been affected by the recent natural disasters please visit

Excerpt Ends

Source: Governor McAuliffe Authorizes National Guard to Deploy Significant Force to U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 9/22/17.