Ocean Protection, Updates, Not the answer
May 19 2017

Seismic Blasting Planned for the Atlantic - Time to Speak Out!

by Pete Stauffer

The Trump administration’s scheme to bring oil rigs to the East Coast is officially underway. The Department of the Interior has announced plans to move forward with seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean, the first step toward offshore drilling in a region where it has been blocked for decades.

The agency will reconsider permit applications from six companies to map offshore oil and gas resources through use of seismic surveys. Previously rejected under the Obama administration, these proposed surveys involve the use of high-decibel sound blasts – underwater explosions – and would have devastating impacts on marine life. According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's own estimates, seismic surveys in the Atlantic could injure up to 130,000 marine mammals over the next 8 years, including the critically endangered Right Whale and the bottlenose dolphin!

The surveys will also set the stage for new offshore drilling off the Mid- and South Atlantic, threatening the health of the marine ecosystem and coastal communities from New York to Florida. In April, President Trump signed an executive order to expand offshore oil drilling in U.S. waters. The order directs the Interior Department to revise the current five-year oil and gas offshore drilling program with potential new leases in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Arctic Ocean. Over the next year, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will gather public input on the issue before making a final decision.

Fortunately, grassroots opposition to seismic blasting and offshore drilling is both widespread and growing. To date, over 120 East Coast municipalities, 1,200 elected officials, and an alliance representing 35,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have publicly opposed offshore drilling and/ or seismic airgun blasting. Surfrider chapters on the Atlantic coast have played an active role in educating the public about the impacts of seismic blasting and offshore drilling and are working with partners to build the movement to protect the Atlantic.

Members of Congress are also speaking out reflecting strong bipartisan opposition to seismic testing and offshore drilling. Congressmen Don Beyer (VA) and Frank LoBiondo (NJ) have introduced the Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection Act to halt permits for seismic airgun blasting on the Atlantic seaboard. “The seismic pulses from airgun blasts threaten the aquatic species many coastal communities depend on,” said Rep. Don Beyer. “Marine life and ocean biodiversity are essential not only to coastal environments, but to local and regional tourism, recreation, and fishing industries.” 

Meanwhile, more than 100 House Democrats and Republicans have signed a letter urging Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke not to allow any new offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The letter urges the administration to honor the current 5 year offshore drilling plan that was finalized last year after years of environmental review and public input.

The Surfrider Foundation will continue to speak out against seismic blasting and offshore drilling to protect our coastal resources and communities. Our campaign strategies include public education, building opposition from businesses and communities, and grassroots advocacy targeting the administration and congress. Last year, Surfrider chapters on the East Coast played an instrumental role in reversing the Obama administration’s plans to open the Atlantic to new oil drilling. Now, we must rally once again to stop new oil rigs off our coasts!

Please join our campaign to stop seismic blasting and offshore drilling off U.S. coastlines. See below to learn how you can take action.

  • Send an email to your federal leaders by completing this action alert.
  • Call your representatives to tell them to oppose seismic blasting and offshore drilling! Find your members' phone numbers here: Senate and House.
  • Share the business petition to demonstrate opposition from the coastal recreation & tourism sector.
  • Participate in Hands Across the Sand on May 20th click here.
  • Visit Surfrider's Stop New Offshore Drilling campaign page click here.
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