State Legislators Urge Feds to Reverse Course on Offshore Drilling

Trump Administration OKs Seismic Surveys in Atlantic Ocean
Dec 12, 2018

New Jersey lawmakers are taking to pen and paper to voice their opposition to the Trump administration’s approval of seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean, a precursor to offshore oil and gas drilling. Late last month, five companies were authorized to bid for the right to conduct geological and geophysical seismic analyses. In expectation of the effect of the seismic pulses on marine life, the National Marine Fisheries Services has issued Incidental Harassment Authorizations for the project.

U.S. Congressman Frank LoBiondo (2nd-N.J.) this week joined with colleagues Congressmen Frank Pallone (6th-N.J.), Don Beyer (8th-Va.) and John Rutherford (4th-Fla.) in authoring a bipartisan letter from 93 members of the House of Representatives stating their disagreement with the administration’s plans.

In their letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the legislators stated, “We urge the Department of the Interior to deny the final seismic survey permits for Atlantic geological and geophysical exploration.

“These permits authorize five companies to use seismic airguns that can disturb, harm and potentially kill not only marine mammals but also a wide range of marine life that support coastal economies from Florida to Maine. Offshore oil and gas exploration and development, the first step of which is seismic airgun testing, puts at risk coastal economies based on fishing, tourism and recreation.”

As the lawmakers also noted, “We hear from countless business owners, elected officials and residents along our coasts who recognize and reject the risks of offshore oil and gas development. More than 220 local municipalities have passed formal resolutions opposing oil and gas exploration and/or drilling in the Atlantic or Eastern Gulf. These include numerous local chambers of commerce, tourism and restaurant associations, commercial and recreational fishing associations, and the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils.”

All but two governors of states bordering the Atlantic and Pacific oceans have formally opposed, or expressed substantial concerns about, expanded offshore oil and gas development, the letter points out.

LoBiondo also joined a recent letter spearheaded by U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (6th-N.J.), also condemning the Trump administration’s decision to move forward with seismic surveys for the specific purpose of oil and gas exploration.

U.S. Representatives Albio Sires (8th-N.J.), Donald Norcross (1st-N.J.), Donald Payne Jr. (10th-N.J.), Bill Pascrell Jr. (9th-N.J.), Josh Gottheimer (5th-N.J.) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (12th-N.J.) also signed the letter, which states, “This decision is a threat to our coastal ecosystems, and places the wishes of the oil industry above the needs and values of the people living and working in our shore communities.

“New Jersyeans and people up and down the East Coast remain steadfast against any effort to drill off of our shores.”

Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

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