Senators: Halt Seismic Permitting

More opposition to seismic blasting in the Atlantic.

Yesterday afternoon, a group of eighteen Senators, led by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), sent a strong letter to Barack Obama urging his administration to reject seismic exploration off the east coast. The Senators note the concerns of the scientific community and say that temporarily withdrawing the Atlantic from offshore oil and gas leasing, as the administration did last month, is not sufficient to protect the region from needless environmental damage. 

“[E]xploration in the form of seismic airgun blasting continues to threaten marine ecosystems and productive fisheries,” they write. “We ask that you protect this important and productive area from unnecessary, long-lasting harm and halt consideration of all G&G [geological and geophysical] oil and gas permits.”

The new letter is the latest in a recent series of public condemnations of east-coast seismic, in the wake of the administration’s leasing withdrawal. Two weeks ago, a group of 28 marine biologists—all experts on the North Atlantic right whale—warned the President that the proposed seismic testing jeopardized the very survival of that endangered and iconic species.

Seismic surveys already proposed by industry would repeatedly blast the mid- and southeast Atlantic.
BOEM

Last week, Frank Knapp, President and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, authored a powerful editorial calling on local politicians and federal agencies to “derail the seismic-testing train.” Other Chambers of Commerce have affirmed their opposition as well, echoing the 95 coastal communities that have adopted anti-seismic resolutions.

And last Friday, a Senate bill was introduced that would permanently bar seismic oil and gas and methane hydrate exploration off the Atlantic, from Maine to Florida. 

When Secretary Jewell announced the withdrawal of the Atlantic from the new, five-year oil and gas leasing plan, some in the administration wondered if the world would simply forget about the controversial seismic blasting that its decision did nothing to stop. Now they know. 

Does the Obama administration really want to inflict needless harm on our oceans?

About the Authors

Michael Jasny

Director, Marine Mammal Protection Project, Nature Program

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