WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- White House officials have blocked a rule that would protect North Atlantic right whales in shipping lanes, U.S. conservationists said.
The Union of Concerned Scientists said documents show the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has blocked the National Marine Fisheries Service for the past year from issuing a rule requiring ships to slow down to 10 knots in some areas of the Atlantic at certain times of the year, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Collisions with ships are the leading known cause of right whale deaths in the western North Atlantic, causing at least 19 deaths since 1986, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., said.
"The rule's delay appears to be due to baseless objections raised by White House officials, including officials in the Office of the Vice President," Waxman said in a letter to Susan Dudley, administrator of the regulatory affairs office. The documents show that the White House Council of Economic Advisers and Vice President Cheney's office repeatedly questioned whether the rule was needed, the newspaper said.