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BSEE, NOAA to enhance environment response management

US: The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) partnered to enhance the Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA) for the Arctic region by summer 2012. ERMA is the same interactive online mapping tool used by federal responders during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This effort aims to address numerous challenges in the Arctic where increasing ship traffic and proposed energy development are increasing the risk of oil spills and chemical releases.
In an emergency situation, ERMA is equipped with near real-time oceanographic observations and weather data from NOAA, and critical information from BSEE and numerous other federal and state response agencies. Responders can further customise the tool with environmental, logistical and operational data such as fishery closure areas, resources at risk maps, and mariner notices, depending on the need. ERMA integrates and synthesises real-time and static data into a single interactive map, providing a quick visualisation of the situation and improving communication and coordination among responders and environmental stakeholders. NOAA originally began developing Arctic ERMA to address escalating energy exploration and transportation activity in the region combined with the emerging risk of spills and other accidents. BSEE is partnering with NOAA to complete the project, with the goal of having the tool available to the response community ahead of any future drilling in federal waters offshore Alaska. When operational, Arctic ERMA will contain information such as the extent and concentration of sea ice, locations of ports and pipelines, and vulnerable environmental resources for spill responders to make rapid, science-informed response decisions. The Gulf ERMA was developed through a joint partnership between NOAA and the University of New Hampshire’s Coastal Response Research Center. The Gulf ERMA was designed by NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration, the University of New Hampshire, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
This partnership is part of the ongoing efforts of the Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska, which was established by the US President Obama in July 2011. Chaired by Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes, the working group coordinates the efforts of federal agencies responsible for overseeing the safe and responsible development of onshore and offshore energy in Alaska. The group’s goal is to improve the federal government’s efficiency, ensuring that resource development projects in Alaska comply with health, safety, and environmental protection standards while reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
Source: www.marinelink.com