Today the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced it will deny all pending permit applications for seismic airgun blasting off the Mid- and South Atlantic coast. The decision is a huge victory for Surfrider Foundation's ongoing campaign to Protect the Atlantic coast from oil and gas development. While we expect the incoming Trump Administration to push for both seismic exploration and new offshore drilling in the coming years, today's decison is great news for our marine ecosystem and Atlantic coastal communities.
The Surfrider Foundation issued the following statement in response to the announcement from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management:
“The Surfrider Foundation applauds today’s decision by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to deny all permit applications for seismic airgun blasting off the Mid- and South Atlantic coast. Seismic exploration for oil and gas would cause devastating impacts to marine life, fishing, coastal recreation and tourism. Moreover, seismic blasting represents the first step towards offshore oil drilling, which is a dangerous and polluting activity that puts our natural resources and coastal economies at risk. The Surfrider Foundation will continue to stand with the hundreds of communities, thousands of businesses, and millions of citizens who oppose oil and gas development off the Atlantic coast."
Seismic exploration involves the use of high-decibel sound blasts – underwater explosions – to identify oil and gas deposits beneath the seafloor. Vessels towing airguns traverse large swaths of ocean, saturating the marine environment with noise pollution that causes devastating impacts to marine wildlife and the health of the ecosystem. According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)'s own estimates, seismic exploration in the Atlantic could injure up to 130,000 marine mammals over the next eight years, including the critically endangered Right Whale and the bottlenose dolphin.
Moreover, seismic blasting represents the first step towards offshore oil drilling, which communities on the Atlantic coast passionately oppose. Over the past two years, over 120 cities on the East Coast have passed resolutions against offshore drilling and seismic testing off their shores. In addition, thousands of recreational businesses and groups on the Atlantic coast have signed a letter against oil drilling and seismic surveys. Last year, the Surfrider Foundation and a delegation of recreation industry leaders met with White House and BOEM officials to express concerns over socioeconomic impacts that would likely result from offshore oil and gas development.
Today's announcement is a positive addition to President Obama's recent decision to protect key habitats of the Atlantic and Arctic from future offshore drilling. However, despite the recent good news, the Surfrider Foundation expects the incoming federal administration will push for both seismic exploration and new offshore drilling in the coming years. Accordingly, there is much work to be done to protect remaining areas in the Atlantic and elsewhere from new offshore drilling and related seismic blasting. Join us and get involved at surfrider.org.
To visit Surfrider's Protect the Atlantic campaign page click here