Chamber reaffirms opposition to seismic blasting

Although the federal government has delayed by at least five years the issuance of oil and gas leases for drilling in the North Atlantic Ocean, the threat of seismic blasting continues to linger.

The Chamber’s Executive Committee recommends that the U.S. Department of the Interior move swiftly to ban seismic survey work as well.

The Chamber’s Board of Directors voted unanimously September 5 to adopt a “Resolution to Oppose Exploration for Oil & Gas and Seismic Blasting Off the Coast of North Carolina.”

“Offshore exploration…and associated seismic blasting…represent a direct threat to the coastal environment of North Carolina, by creating the risk of pollution and by causing harmful effects to marine mammals, turtles, fish, migratory birds and other aquatic life,” the Chamber stated.

“While we are grateful the Obama administration listened to part of the message – the risks of pollution to potentially destroy tourism and the environment – the Chamber remains opposed to seismic blasting,” said Chamber Chair Bucky Oliver of The Boathouse at Front Street Village.

“The scientific data show seismic blasting causes underwater, industrial-level noise impacts that are stressful to right whales.  The effects are hazardous to the health and fitness of these whales and impairs their reproduction, as is documented by a drastic and dramatic drop in calving rates since 1998,” he said.

“The right whale is already among the most endangered whales on the planet, with only about 500 individuals remaining.  Scientists tell us that seismic blasting may well represent a tipping point for the survival of this endangered whale, leading to eventual extinction.

“We understand that the next whale status review by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is scheduled for 2017.

“The responsible solution is to stop seismic test permitting now and to reassess the situation after NOAA completes the whale review,” Oliver said.

A bill was introduced last week in the U.S. Senate to “prohibit any and all seismic activity” off the East Coast of the United States.

“We will be closely following S. 2841, introduced by New Jersey Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menéndez, both Democrats,” said Chamber President Mike Wagoner.  “The legislation is titled the Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection (ASAP) Act, to amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

Already, three Senators have signed on as co-sponsors:  Edward Markey, D-Mass.; Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.; and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.

Sens. Booker and Menendez spoke about their bill on Earth Day (April 22) at Montclair (N.J.) State University.

“It’s a bill that will prohibit fossil fuel-related seismic testing and take another important step forward in protecting our oceans for generations to come,” Sen. Booker said.

Sen. Menéndez said:  “We have a responsibility to be good stewards of our environment, and allowing seismic testing in the Atlantic is an abdication of that responsibility.  We will continue to stand up for the values of New Jerseyans over the profit of the big oil industry.”

  1. 2841 has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which is chaired by Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Maine.

The Chamber will encourage North Carolina’s Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, both Republicans, to co-sponsor and support this ASAP bill…ASAP, Oliver said.