The federal govenment is moving forward with a controversial plan to allow seismic exploration for oil and gas in the Atlantic ocean. On February 27, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released the final environmental impact statement (EIS), recommending extensive seismic airgun testing off the Mid- and South Atlantic coasts. These surveys would cause major impacts to marine wildlife and the ecosystem, and set the stage for future oil and gas development. A final decision will be made by the agency after April 7, following the last public comment opportunity.
BOEM’s announcement follows years of intense public debate, with an overwhelming majority of citizens having expressed opposition to the proposal. During 15 public forums and a 90 day comment period in 2012, tens of thousands of people urged the government to cancel plans for seismic testing in the Atlantic. The coalition of stakeholders opposing the proposal is large and diverse, with coastal residents, scientists, fishermen, conservationists, recreators, business owners, animal rights supporters, elected officials and others rejecting based on the anticipated impacts to the marine ecosystem and coastal communities. Nevertheless, the pressure applied by the American Petroleum Industry and related lobby groups appears to be trumping the input of the majority thus far.
The Surfrider Foundation released the following statement following BOEM’s announcment:
“Seismic airgun testing would cause catastrophic impacts to the marine ecosystem, including injury and death to hundreds of thousands of whales and dolphins. It would 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. On behalf of more than 250,000 Surfrider Foundation members and supporters, including over 25 local chapters from Maine to Florida who have vigorously opposed the proposal, we call upon the Obama Administration to cancel plans for seismic testing in the Atlantic ocean.”
With the final decision expected soon, the federal government needs to hear from people who are concerned about the health of the marine ecosystem and coastal communities. A 30-day final comment period to BOEM opens on March 7th and ends April 7th. Comments can be submitted by email to email@example.com (subject line “Comments on Final Programmatic EIS for G&G Activities in the Mid- and South Atlantic OCS”). Please tell the agency to cancel plans for seismic testing in the Atlantic ocean. For more ways to take action, please visit our campaign page.
Undisclosed fracking and “frac packs,” that have been used in waters offshore California will be the focus of a morning hearing before the California Coastal Commission (CCC) on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 in Pismo Beach.
Despite industry vowing to conduct their activities in a transparent and open fashion, the fracking industry has repeatedly failed to provide notice of offshore fracking and “frac packs” to the Coastal Commission. The controversial practice of fracking is poised to dramatically expand in California and the Coastal Commission has a key role in oversight of this activity within the coastal zone, and in state and federal offshore waters.
“There is a serious breach of trust when the Interior Department and the oil industry consistently fail to notify our state agencies whenever offshore fracking is undertaken in California’s coastal waters.” said Richard Charter, Senior Fellow with The Ocean Foundation. “It’s time for the industry’s misleading claim of public transparency to be replaced with due care for our fisheries and our coast.”
A coalition of environmental organizations has identified several specific actions that the Coastal Commission should take to address offshore fracking (as well as acidization and other risky well stimulation technologies).
“The Coastal Commission is in a unique position to exercise its legitimate jurisdiction over permitting and monitoring fracking and other forms of well stimulation taking place within the coastal zone and offshore in California waters,” said Stefanie Sekich-Quinn of the Surfrider Foundation. “It’s unacceptable for oil companies to simply evade oversight by failing to notify agencies when well stimulation occurs offshore.”
“Offshore oil drilling is an inherently risky and dirty activity, a risk that is heightened by the use of fracking and other technologies dependent on intensive chemical use,” stated Brian Segee, Senior Attorney with Environmental Defense Center. “The Coastal Commission has a long history of defending California’s irreplaceable coastal environment, and we look forward to working with the Commission and federal regulators to address this critical issue.”
The front lines of Surfrider’s Atlantic Seismic campaign have moved to Kure, North Carolina! Last week the Cape Fear Chapter helped lead a community protest against proposed seismic exploration for oil and gas in the Atlantic ocean. Hundreds of people showed up at Kure Beach Town Hall to oppose Mayor Dean Lambeth’s decision to sign a letter supporting seismic testing written by a lobbying group of the American Petroleum Institute.
During the three hour meeting, citizens waved signs as the city council listened to presentations on the issue. Emotions flared when the mayor moved the public comment period from the beginning to the end of the meeting. As the mayor attempted to restore order, Surfrider’s Cape Fear Chair, Ethan Crouch, suggested that moving up the public comment period would help diminish the outbursts. Ultimately the public was heard during hours of inspired testimony with all but a few speakers expressing strong opposition to seismic testing.
The Department of the Interior is scheduled to make a final decision this spring on whether to conduct seismic surveys off the Mid- and South Atlantic coast. 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 wouldinjure 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.
Moreover, 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 oppose seismic testing in the Atlantic!
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