In a landmark decision that could pave the way for offshore drilling off the Atlantic coast, the federal government has approved seismic exploration for oil and gas resources. On July 17th, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced a final decision to proceed with extensive seismic airgun testing off the Mid- and South Atlantic coasts. The surveys will cause major impacts to marine wildlife and the ecosystem, and set the stage for future oil and gas development.
The federal government's announcement follows years of intense public debate, with an overwhelming majority of citizens who provided input having expressed opposition to the proposal. During 15 public forums and several comment periods, tens of thousands of people urged the government to cancel plans for seismic testing in the Atlantic.
The Surfrider Foundation released the following statement following BOEM's announcement:
“Seismic airgun testing will cause catastrophic impacts to the marine ecosystem, including injury or death to hundreds of thousands of whales and dolphins. It will also set the stage for offshore drilling off the Atlantic coast, a dirty and dangerous practice that threatens the health of our oceans and coastal communities. The Surfrider Foundation, including our 25 local chapters from Maine to Florida, is deeply dismayed by the federal government's decision and will continue to fight the expansion of drilling off the Atlantic coast."
In the coming weeks, the Surfrider Foundation will work with its coalition partners to evaluate potential options to halt or delay the planned seismic airgun testing.
The Surfrider Foundation is also urging its members to submit comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in opposition to the expansion of offshore drilling in the 2017 - 2022 Outer Contintental Shelf (OCS) Oil & Gas Leasing Program. For more information on how to provide comments click here.