The seismic exploration permits it has proposed would authorize energy companies to blast Atlantic waters with air guns and harm marine mammals.
In a first step toward drilling off the Atlantic coast, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed to issue five permits—known as Incidental Harm Authorizations—that allow energy companies to harm marine mammals as they search for oil and gas deposits beneath the seafloor. In their exploration, the companies use seismic air gun blasts, which are as loud as dynamite and occur every 10 seconds for weeks and months on end—and can deafen whales and other marine wildlife, making it hard for them to navigate, find food, select mates, and avoid predators.
“It’s a license for energy companies—in their relentless drive for more fossil fuels—to devastate marine wildlife,” Michael Jasny, director of the Marine Mammal Protection Project, said. “Scientists warn that seismic activity alone could drive the endangered North Atlantic right whale to extinction. Lawmakers, commercial and recreational fisherman, hundreds of communities, and tens of thousands of coastal businesses strongly oppose this reckless giveaway to the oil and gas industry, and will stand in the way of final permits.”
The move follows President Trump’s April 28 executive order attempting to reverse permanent ocean protections and open America’s coastal waters to more offshore drilling. The public has 30 days to comment on the today’s proposals.