The federal government proposes to conduct seismic surveying in the Atlantic Ocean to collect information on oil and gas deposits. Seismic surveying is inherently harmful because it releases one of the loudest human-caused sounds in the world, and marine species, particularly marine mammals, are particularly sensitive to changes in the sound environment in the ocean. For example, marine mammals, such as the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, depend on sound for eating, reproduction, and communication. And seismic surveying is the first step to introducing oil and gas development in the Atlantic Ocean, which can lead to small- and large-scale oil spills, poisoning sensitive marine species, and can continue to degrade the global climate.
With generous funding from the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Christina Reichert L’14 completed a postgraduate fellowship aimed to prevent this exploration and development. To meet this goal, she participated in legal, media, and grassroots advocacy. Most of her legal work involved commenting on federal and state rulemakings under the Outer-Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”), Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), Marine Mammal Protection Act (“MMPA”), and Coastal Zone Management Act (“CZMA”). Over the course of her fellowship, Christina was the primary author of 18 comment letters and represented Oceana in meetings among organizations seeking to end offshore drilling. Using legal and grassroots tools, she was able to obtain additional measures to protect sea creatures from harmful seismic surveying. As a result of Christina’s work, Oceana was able to slow down the seismic surveying process by almost a full year, and has been inspired to incorporate Christina’s work against offshore drilling and development into their practice, hiring a 2016-17 fellow to continue the project she created after she completed her fellowship.
Christina’s fellowship year helped her to prepare to take on her next challenge in environmental advocacy. In 2015, she took a position in the Climate and Energy Program at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Her current work focuses on the Clean Power Plan, helping states to create programs to meet the regulatory cap on carbon dioxide emissions. When not working to literally save the world, Christina serves as a vice chair for the Environmental, Energy, and Natural Resources Committee for the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyer Division.