News | June 20, 2012

SELC cautions against exploring for Atlantic oil

Despite ongoing and serious problems in federal oversight of offshore drilling, the Obama Administration is proceeding with plans to allow seismic oil and gas exploration in the Mid- and South Atlantic. The technology used for seismic surveys is extremely harmful to wildlife and coastal resources, and no matter how much oil might lie beneath the ocean floor, we cannot drill our way out of high gas prices.

The oil and gas industry uses arrays of seismic airguns, which send blasts of compressed air into the water almost as intense as explosives.  Airgun noise is loud enough to mask whale calls over thousands of miles, destroying their capacity to communicate and breed.  It can drive marine life to abandon their habitat and cease foraging over vast areas of ocean.  Seismic surveys also harm commercial fisheries, dramatically decreasing catch rates and affecting our coastal economies. 

SELC and our partners have serious concerns about the impacts of seismic exploration, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has failed to thoroughly address those impacts. We are urging the agency to instead focus its efforts on development of renewable energy offshore. Scanning the ocean floor for wind turbine development is safer for our coasts and wildlife than airguns, and supports a cleaner, more sustainable source of energy.