There are only about 300 of them alive today. They are being killed off by collisions with ships and "fishing gear interactions." The National Marine Fisheries Service says, "no mortality or serious injury for this whale can be considered insignificant" and adds the death of even a single whale, particularly of a breeding female, "MAY CONTRIBUTE TO THE EXTINCTION OF THE SPECIES." FOUR YEARS ago the NMFS started a rulemaking process to protect the North Atlantic right whale from collisions with ships. They came up with a plan to place SPEED LIMITS on all commercial shipping near American ports. They submitted their plan to an office in OMB at the end of FEBRUARY 2007 for a review that was supposed to take 90 DAYS. Now over a year later the review has not been completed and documents point to white house officials and the office of the Vice President as being a major reason why. Cheney's office is questioning everything including whether reducing the speed of large ships will help save the whales. Since NMFS started its rulemaking processing 7 more North Atlantic right whales have been KILLED by "vessel strikes" and 5 have been injured. Rep. Henry Waxman has put all of this and much more in a letter.