Beyer & LoBiondo Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Seismic Airgun Testing, Protect Marine Life

Apr 27, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Don Beyer (VA-08) and Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) today announced that they have introduced legislation to halt permits for seismic airgun blasting on the Atlantic seaboard. Petroleum companies use seismic blasting in their surveying process, but the practice has significant, adverse effects on marine species. The Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection Act would halt the practice.

“The seismic pulses from airgun blasts threaten the aquatic species many coastal communities depend on,” said Rep. Don Beyer. “Marine life and ocean biodiversity are essential not only to coastal environments, but to local and regional tourism, recreation, and fishing industries.”

Seismic airgun pulses are loud, repetitive, explosive sounds used to identify oil and gas reservoirs deep in the ocean floor. Sound travels so efficiently under water that seismic blasts can cause hearing damage, stress, and other harm to numerous aquatic species, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.

“The ecological damage and negative economic impact caused by seismic testing is clear, which is why there is near-unanimous opposition from local concerned residents, commercial and recreational fishermen, and environmentalists along the Jersey Shore. This bipartisan legislation reaffirms my strong opposition to seismic airgun testing in waters off South Jersey,” said Rep. Frank LoBiondo.

Offshore petroleum extraction in the Atlantic was blocked until 2022 following an Obama-era decision by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), but that action is reportedly under review by the Trump Administration. President Obama denied all pending permits for seismic airgun blasting just before leaving office, and the Trump Administration is likely to reopen permitting.

“Oceana thanks Reps. Beyer and LoBiondo for their continued leadership to stop seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean. Along the East Coast, nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in GDP rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation. Offshore oil and gas exploration, and the drilling and spilling that follows, puts coastal communities and economies at risk,” said Nancy Pyne, climate and energy campaign director at Oceana.

“Regardless of who is in the White House, coastal communities remain united in their opposition to offshore drilling activities. As of today, more than 120 municipalities, over 1,200 elected officials, and an alliance representing over 35,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have publicly opposed offshore drilling and/or seismic airgun blasting off the East Coast. On the eve of the Peoples Climate March, as the specter of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster looms large, it is more important than ever to make sure that these voices are heard in Washington. Instead of pursuing seismic airgun blasting off our coasts, and expanding our dependence on dirty and dangerous offshore drilling, we should rapidly develop clean energy solutions like offshore wind.”

Text of the bill may be found here.

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