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03 • 29 • 2012

Seismic Testing Defeated on the Atlantic Coast

On October 6, 2020, Surfrider celebrated a long fought victory over seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean. Judge Richard M. Gergel ordered a dismissal of a seismic lawsuit Surfrider had brought to stop the testing, without prejudice. This effectively halts any efforts at seismic blasting in the Atlantic Ocean for now, and the oil and gas industry would have to start over from scratch if they wanted to keep advocating for this dangerous activity. More information is availabe in this coastal blog.

Surfrider was joined by the Center for Biological Diversity, One Hundred Miles, Defenders of Wildlife, Coastal Conservation League, NRDC, Oceana, Southern Environmental Law Center, North Carolina Coastal Federation, and the Sierra Club in their lawsuit, led by Earthjustice.

Surfrider chapters on the East Coast opposed the federal government's plan to conduct seismic surveys for oil and gas resources off the Mid- and South Atlantic coast. Seismic airgun testing would cause major impacts to marine wildlife and bring the Atlantic coast closer to the risky practice of offshore oil drilling. 

On July 17th, 2014, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced its decision to proceed with extensive seismic airgun testing off the Mid- and South Atlantic coasts. Seismic airgun testing would cause major impacts to marine wildlife and bring the Atlantic coast closer to the risky practice of offshore oil drilling, the same practice that led to the disastrous Deepwater Horizon Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico four years ago.

Seismic surveys employ loud and damaging technologies, causing major impacts to marine wildlife and the ecosystem. According to the Department’s own estimates, seismic exploration would injure upwards of 130,000 whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals. The surveys would also impact millions of other animals through disrupting mating, feeding, communication, and migration activities. 

Furthermore, offshore drilling is inherently polluting and dangerous, and it will not solve our nation’s energy needs. According to the Department of Energy, fully developing all of our recoverable offshore oil reserves would lower pump prices by only 3 cents. Such a tradeoff is not worth the risk to our coastal economies, including tourism, recreation, and commerical fishing, which generate billions of dollars in annual revenue on the Atlantic coast.

To read Surfrider Foundation’s comment letter click here

Ocean Protection