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Judge: Agency didn’t properly weigh Alaska beluga impacts

In this photo taken Aug. 25, 2017, provided by NOAA Fisheries, a newborn beluga whale calf sticks its head out of the water in upper Cook Inlet, Alaska. (NOAA Fisheries via AP)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that a federal agency did not properly consider how tugboat noise associated with planned oil and gas activity in Cook Inlet could affect endangered beluga whales. The Anchorage Daily News reports Hilcorp in 2018 applied for a so-called incidental take authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service while planning for for exploratory drilling activities between 2019 and 2024 with the potential to disrupt beluga whales. U.S. District Court Judge Gleason said the federal agency’s recovery plan for the whales identified noise from tugs as a threat but that the agency did not properly consider the impact from tugboat noise when it approved Hilcorp’s request.

 


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