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seismic testing protests heard in congress

With nearly 90% of coastal North Carolina communities opposing offshore drilling and exploration, bipartisan agreement in the US Congress to halt seismic surveying is emerging, as this article in the Tideland News of Swansboro reports.

Diagram of seismic surveying. Marine mammals and fish are often affected by the process.

Diagram of seismic surveying. Marine mammals and fish are often affected by the process.

“Thirty-three members of Congress, including Republican Rep. Walter B. Jones of coastal North Carolina, earlier this month signed a letter expressing deep concerns about the use of seismic air guns for oil exploration off the East Coast.”

“The leading signatories on the letter were Rep. Mark Sanford, a Republican from South Carolina, and Rep. Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Virginia.

The letter, to Abigail Hopper, director of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, goes as far as urging her to withdraw and rewrite its environmental reviews for seismic blasting, and to withhold any permits for this activity until new scientific studies have been taken into account. It’s very similar to a letter previously written by marine scientists from the around the world, including Dr. Doug Nowacek of the Duke University Marine Laboratory on Pivers Island in Beaufort.

“Seismic air gun exploration is an enormously disruptive activity in the ocean,” the letter states. “A significant body of peer-reviewed science demonstrates that seismic air gun testing results in massive displacement of fish, causes catch rates of some commercial fish to plummet, and disrupts vital feeding and breeding behaviors in endangered whales.

“Opposition to seismic air gun testing is widespread and growing,” the letter continues. “Close to 90 towns, cities, and counties along the Atlantic coast have passed resolutions opposing seismic testing and/or offshore oil drilling. The Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils have taken formal positions in opposition.”

The bipartisan group, which also includes Democratic Rep. David Price, who represents, parts of Alamance, Orange, Durham, Wake, Harnett, Chatham and Cumberland counties, sent the letter as speculation grows about whether the administration will allow the testing, and then, potentially, drilling for oil and gas off North Carolina or other South Atlantic States.”

Read the full story on the bipartisan support opposing seismic surveying in the Tideland News.

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