SELC looks to stop seismic blasting in Atlantic, a precursor to drilling

Endangered right whales are one of many species that would be impacted by seismic blasting. The waters off the Southeast United States are the only place they give birth. (© NOAA)

Today SELC joined national and local organizations, Atlantic coast states, local communities, and leading scientists in calling on the Trump administration to deny five draft permits for seismic airgun blasting off the Atlantic coast. These permits to harass whales and dolphins are required before companies can conduct seismic blasting off our coast. Before issuing these authorizations, the Department of Commerce must ensure that the proposed testing will have no more than a “negligible impact” on marine mammals.

Seismic blasting in the Atlantic would involve dynamite-like blasts going off every ten seconds for weeks or months on end. The Department of Commerce’s own study has found that seismic blasting could injure up to 130,000 whales and dolphins.  In 2015, 75 scientists warned the Obama administration of the “significant, long-lasting, and widespread” harm that seismic airgun blasting has on marine mammals and fish. In June 2017, a new study published in Nature found that seismic airguns have devastating impacts on zooplankton, which are vital food sources for the marine ecosystem, including for marine mammals and fish. The science is clear: seismic airgun blasting will have long-lasting and far-reaching adverse impacts on the marine environment and the communities that depend on these resources.

“We’re talking about harming commercial and recreational fisheries, as well as whales and dolphins, so the oil industry can advance its case for drilling off our coast,” said Sierra Weaver, senior attorney for SELC.  “None of this will benefit the people who live and play on the Southeast coast, and this unnecessary harm should be stopped before it starts.”

The Department of Commerce is expected to make a final decision on the marine mammal permits by the end of the summer. 

In addition, the negative effects of seismic airgun blasting, it is also the first step toward risky and harmful offshore oil and gas drilling. Communities up and down the Atlantic coast—most recently Norfolk and Virginia Beach—have said no to offshore drilling and seismic airgun blasting in order to protect our economy, environment, and way of life. 

More News

Transportation, climate & equity: Building a just transition to a clean transportation future

In late November, leaders from government, nonprofits, and local communities joined together for a day-long discussion about the connection betwe...

Virginia governor proposes $733 million in new funds for environment

Today, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam proposed a budget that includes $733 million in new funding for the environment, clean energy, and environ...

“No action” at Superfund site not acceptable

A community in eastern North Carolina is taking action after news that a Superfund site in their neighborhood will be left as-is. “It is imperat...

Proposed federal energy rollbacks threaten renewable energy growth

This week, SELC filed comments on behalf of eighteen organizations across the Southeast opposing proposed rollbacks to clean energy policies at t...

TVA to terminate its popular payback program for going solar

You know the deal. When a household with rooftop solar panels produces more energy than it can use, it sends the excess back to the grid, and man...

N.C. Governor urges federal action for wild wolves

As federal officials abandon their obligations to wild red wolves, North Carolina’s governor weighed in this week with a letter to key officials...

More Stories