The Obama Administration has announced that it will delay a final decision on whether to conduct seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean until March 2014. 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.
In March of 2012, the Department of the Interior announced its intent to begin seismic testing off the coast of the Mid and South Atlantic to assess potential oil and gas resources. The Administration’s Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program includes seismic airgun testing from Delaware to Florida.
The proposed surveys would 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 over the next eight years. The surveys would also impact millions of other individuals through disrupting mating, feeding, communication, and migration activities. Finally, seismic activities would displace and cause impacts to a wide variety of fish and invertebrate populations.
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.
Please sign the petition to the Secretary of the Interior in opposition to seismic testing in the Atlantic!
To read DOI’s official announcement click here
To read Surfrider Foundation’s comment letter click here
The citizens of California recently learned that fracking has been occurring in California waters (both state and federal). The revelation was shocking because government officials had previously asserted fracking was not being conducted off California’s coast. Surfrider is working with the two organizations that made the discovery to help raise awareness among the general public and to pressure regulatory agencies to not turn a blind eye on fracking. Below is Surfrider’s recent position statement on the breaking news and here is a press release.
Surfrider’s Position Statement on Offshore Fracking in California
A special investigation into hydraulic fracturing (fracking) revealed that the practice has been utilized off the coast of California (despite assurances from Government officials that fracking was not in use). After months of conducting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, our friends at Environmental Defense Center discovered fracking has occurred at least a dozen times in the Santa Barbara Channel (outside of state waters).
The most alarming discovery is that a handful of federal regulators allowed fracking to occur without additional environmental review and fracking fluids were dumped directly into the ocean. Surfrider believes regulators are circumventing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by approving fracking without conducting a complete environmental analysis. Unfortunately, it could take years to figure out the total number of offshore fracks; as regulators said they have to comb through numerous files and many are not digitized.
On the heels of discovering fracking occurred in federal waters, research by the Center for Biological Diversity concluded fracking is also occurring in state waters. State records and content from an industry website FracFocus.org, show oil companies have been fracking in state waters for years. To date, we have been unable to locate any environmental review conducted under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) or by other state resource agencies.
We are concerned that if state and federal regulators continue to allow fracking without updating environmental impacts, there could be a “mad rush” by other oil companies to utilize fracking. What’s even more disconcerting is that internal government documents reveal offshore fracking does not greatly increase oil production.
Surfrider is appalled that fracking has occurred in state and federal waters without regulators being aware; and it is inexcusable that fracking fluids were discharged directly into the ocean without any scientific understanding of how these chemicals impact ocean ecosystems.
Surfrider is calling for a moratorium on offshore fracking until oil/gas companies and government officials conduct proper Environmental Impact Statements/Reports, provide independent scientific studies, and include a public process that is rooted in transparency (as required under both CEQA and NEPA).
We are confident citizens can successfully pressure regulators to protect our coastline and ocean from fracking. The California Coastal Commission (CCC) does “have a say” about how offshore projects can affect state water quality or marine mammals. In a recent letter to the CCC, and a press release, Surfrider called for a moratorium on offshore fracking and urged the CCC to launch an investigation into frack jobs offshore California. We will continue to follow the issue closely and work with the environmental community to demand government officials thoroughly review environmental impacts of fracking and drastically improve regulations.
The House of Representatives has passed legislation to dramatically expand offshore drilling in the U.S. The Offshore Energy and Jobs Act (HR 2231) would double the amount of drilling off our coasts by requiring the Department of the Interior to lease at least 50% of unleased acreage with the greatest resources. Effectively, this would mean new offshore drilling off every U.S. coastline, including the states of California, Virginia, South Carolina, and Alaska (see graphic below). The bill would also reduce environmental review for new drilling, despite overwhelming evidence that oversight for offshore drilling needs to be enhance.
Fortunately, the proposal also must pass the Senate – where opposition to offshore drilling is stronger – before it can become law. So please contact your Senator through our action alert to ask him/ her to oppose new offshore drilling!
Expanding drilling in U.S. waters will put our coastal communities at risk from ecological and economic harm. Our nation’s coasts provide billions of dollars in economic revenue through recreation, tourism, and healthy seafood. We must protect these benefits by asking our Senators to oppose the expansion of offshore drilling!