Published: Tue, June 06, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Trump admin proposes seismic surveys for Atlantic drilling

Trump admin proposes seismic surveys for Atlantic drilling

"This is the gateway to drilling, " said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, referring to the move to allow seismic surveys with the air guns.

"Tomorrow's publication is further evidence by the Trump Administration that it is committed to offshore energy development, recognizing the need for new and updated information. for making informed energy policy decisions about America's resources on behalf of the American people", Liew said. The National Marine Fisheries Service will take comments on the proposals during a 30-day public comment period. In addition, Obama permanently closed off nearly 6,000 square miles of ocean territory from MA to Virginia, including off New Jersey coast, to drilling.

If finalized, likely in the next few months, the draft proposal would grant permits to five companies to conduct the testing in waters from three to 350 miles off the coast from the New Jersey/Delaware border to central Florida.

Likewise, environmental groups are anxious that the surveys could open the door to drilling.

As a fisherman Baumann said he is skeptical. "You're going to affect just about everyone who goes fishing in the ocean", Rick Baumann, who owns South Carolina's Murrells Inlet Seafood, said on the call. "Obama heard us, BOEM heard us..."

There are some seasonal restrictions for the permits. In the summer, they travel north and forage off the coast of MA.

Nicolette Nye, a spokesperson for the National Ocean Industries Association, said it estimates the Atlantic holds about 4.7 billion barrels of oil and 37.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, though those estimates are based on seismic surveys from more than 30 years ago.

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Endangered North Atlantic right whales breed off the Georgia coast, and seismic tests would not be allowed during breeding season in areas designated "critical" to the whales.

Seismic testing has been shown to disrupt right whales mating, communication, and feeding behaviors, Nowacek said.

"The U.S. Department of the Interior, under the capable leadership of Secretary Zinke, will issue the necessary permits for ocean exploration", added Palmer. Noting that there are 40 to 50 charter fishing boats that go off Cape Hatteras every day, he said it was "sort of like the Serengeti of the Atlantic".

The data collected through seismic testing would be sold to oil and gas companies and would update 30-year-old maps of the ocean's subfloor to provide companies and the federal government with more information about where oil or gas deposits may be located off the Mid-Atlantic and South-Atlantic coasts, including SC.

Nancy Pyne, a campaign director for Oceana, said the risk is elevated because of the steady stream of Trump initiatives aimed at unraveling the environmental legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama. "It sets the stage for oil and gas drilling". "It's outrageous that the Trump administration is catering to Big Oil by ignoring the needs of wildlife and coastal communities".

"Continuing this process is consistent with the goals of Presidential Executive Order 13795, Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy, which encourages energy exploration and production that fosters energy security and resilience for Americans, while ensuring those activities are safe and environmentally responsible".

She calls it the first step towards offshore drilling and points to the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico as a major reason this should not be allowed to happen.

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