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, 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.
Press Release, August 26, 2014; Image: BSEE