Statement by Karen Wayland, NRDC Legislative Director

WASHINGTON (June 21, 2005) -- By a vote of 52-44, the Senate today rejected a bipartisan amendment to strike language in its energy legislation that would allow damaging high-intensity seismic exploration off the nation's coasts.

The following is a statement by Karen Wayland, Legislative Director for NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council):

"Most Americans prefer the beaches where they live or love to visit free of oil spills and drilling rigs. Now that the U.S. Senate has ignored their wishes, the current energy bill leaves our beloved beaches and coastlines vulnerable to harmful energy exploration.

"We applaud Sens. Martinez and Nelson from Florida, and their fellow senators who voted to stop seismic testing because they know that it's really a ruse to open our fragile coasts to more oil drilling.

"Everyone knows that drilling our shores won't make a dent in our energy needs. Instead of putting our beaches at risk, harming marine life and threatening coastal economies, Congress should invest in energy solutions that would end our dependence on oil and lower gas prices."

"Congress needs to realize that conducting an offshore energy 'inventory' is not a harmless paper exercise. Seismic surveys would require the use of air guns, which use explosive blasts to map rock formations on the sea floor. Sound from these underwater blasts can be detected for thousands of miles. The hundreds of millions of blasts that would be required to survey the OCS would harm marine life.

"It's no wonder that experts rank the sound intensity of seismic exploration as second only to bombs detonating. Imagine if Congress called for exploding hundreds of millions of artillery shells in the waters off our coasts -- that is very close to what the Senate energy bill does."