Today the National Marine Fisheries Service authorized seismic blasting off the east coast, from the New Jersey border down through central Florida.
We’ve written many times before about this looming decision. Seismic surveys constitute not only the main precursor to offshore drilling, but a serious assault on the ocean in themselves. They repeatedly pound the water with industrial airguns, producing noise as loud as explosions, about every ten seconds, day and night, for weeks and months on end. They harm species from the great baleen whales, which they silence over vast distances, to the tiny zooplankton on which all marine life depends. They compromise feeding in marine mammals; displace fish from their habitat and disrupt fisheries on a large scale; and injure and kill invertebrates from krill to lobster to scallops.
The five authorizations that the Fisheries Service issued today, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, specifically allow companies to harm tens of thousands of whales and other marine mammals. In 2016, scientists warned that the activity would jeopardize the survival of the endangered North Atlantic right whale, one of the country’s most iconic species, which has already been suffering precipitous declines. But the Trump administration is unconcerned with whales, and its interest in fisheries takes a back seat to its destructive alliance with Big Oil.
With the marine mammal authorizations in the can, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which manages offshore energy development, is expected to issue its own permits within a few weeks—as much a fait accompli as I have ever seen. The timing, of course, is cynical. As with its proposed oil and gas leasing program, which likewise is expected to drop soon, the administration chose to hold off on seismic permitting until after Election Day, to minimize the effects of an unpopular proposal on coastal House races.
And, indeed, blasting the east coast for offshore oil and gas is a deeply unpopular move. More than 140 municipalities from New Jersey to Florida have adopted resolutions rejecting it; more than 40,000 local businesses and business organizations are allied against it. The region’s two Fisheries Management Councils have repeatedly objected to it, as have numerous fishers’ associations up and down the Atlantic. On Capitol Hill, as in the community, the opposition is truly bipartisan with leadership shown on both sides of the aisle, on both seismic and drilling.
We're preparing to fight today's unlawful action. Please write your representatives in Congress and demand that they also oppose this terrible plan to blast and drill in the Atlantic.