Press Release | March 2, 2015

Conservation Groups Comment on First Proposals to Seismic Blast North Carolina’s Coast

Chapel Hill, N.C.— On behalf of several conservation groups, the Southern Environmental Law Center today submitted comments to the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management (DCM) on the first two proposals to conduct seismic blasting with airguns off the North Carolina coast.

To search for oil and gas in the ocean, the industry uses arrays of airguns that are towed behind ships and release intense blasts of compressed air into the water – just about the loudest sounds that humans make short of explosives. The administration’s current plan would allow seismic operators to reshoot the same areas again and again to sell the data as proprietary to oil companies despite the repeated, cumulative and substantial harm to North Carolina’s coastal resources. The Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) is currently considering nine applications to conduct seismic blasting in the Atlantic Ocean off the North Carolina’s coast with largely overlapping survey areas.  To date, two companies have submitted certifications for consistency with North Carolina’s coastal management plan to DCM.

The following statement is by Sierra Weaver, senior attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center:

“The administration would needlessly harm wildlife and fisheries in deference to big oil. Companies propose to blast again and again the rare sea turtles, whales, commercially valuable fish and other marine life along North Carolina’s coast for each oil companies’ own secret information.

“North Carolina has an important opportunity now to protect its coastal resources from repeated seismic blasting. The proposed blasting and cumulative harm is inconsistent with North Carolina’s coastal management plan and goal of protecting valuable coastal life. Our natural resources are an essential part of the state’s coastal economy and our coastal heritage, and cannot be put at risk.”


The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC's team of more than 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use.

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