Friday, August 05, 2016

Atlantic drilling off table but survey permits pending

While drilling for oil and natural gas in the Atlantic is off the table for now, permits are still pending that could allow seismic surveys to map just how much might be out there. The Obama administration announced earlier this month that the Atlantic will not be included in the next round of offshore energy leases from 2017 through 2022. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the decision was based in part on local opposition. Dozens of coastal communities passed resolutions opposing offshore drilling worried that oil spills could hurt fisheries and tourism. Two years ago, however, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management opened areas in the Atlantic to energy surveys and eight companies currently have pending applications to use seismic air guns to map the ocean floor. Environmental groups worry the loud sounds from the air guns will harm marine life such as whales and turtles. The advocacy group Oceana released maps Tuesday showing areas where permits are being sought and where they overlap crucial marine habitat. Almost 40 fishermen and others who make their living on the waters off Delaware, Maryland and Virginia also sent a letter to the governors of the three states. “Allowing seismic blasting could disrupt the spawning, feeding and migration patterns that support our fisheries and replenish fish populations from year to year,” the letter warned...more

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