Public Hearing set for Friday, April 27th, 2012 at 1pm at Atlantic City Convention Center
Sandy Hook, NJ – On Friday, April 27th, in Atlantic City, the United States Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM), is holding the last in a series of East Coast hearings on their recent proposal to blast airgun arrays from Florida to the Delaware Bay searching for offshore oil to drill. The hearing will be held at 1pm in room 301 of the Atlantic City Convention Center.
These “seismic surveys” involve towing airgun arrays behind survey ships, regularly and repeatedly blasting sound waves through the ocean and deep into the ocean floor to pinpoint locations of sub-seabed oil and gas deposits. While the industry term “airgun” suggests an innocuous impact, these surveys generate intense marine noise pollution that propagates over vast areas of the ocean potentially causing significant damage to marine life and marine ecosystems. In addition to the exploratory tactic’s danger to marine life, it is the first step toward oil drilling in the Atlantic Ocean – which threatens our clean ocean economy and community.
Sandy Hook-based ocean advocacy organization Clean Ocean Action (COA) is calling on New Jersey’s citizens to attend the public hearing (which is the only one scheduled for New Jersey), on April 27th at 1pm, in room 301 of the Atlantic City Convention Center to voice their opposition to these proposed seismic surveys. COA is a coalition of environmental, fishing, civic, and community based organizations that come together to combat ocean pollution and ocean industrialization. The groups have been working with a national coalition to keep the Atlantic Ocean oil-drilling-free.
“For the first time in over 25 years, the Atlantic Ocean is under the gun,” said Cindy Zipf, Clean Ocean Action’s Executive Director. “We must not sacrifice the region’s vibrant, clean ocean economy as the mainstay of the Atlantic seaboard—it’s killing the goose that lays the golden egg. The Administration is searching for oil in all the wrong places under the pretense of reducing gasoline prices”
Federal studies show if oil was found, it would take decades for oil production to come online, and even then would reduce gas prices by only $0.03 per gallon. However, there is no requirement that oil and gas found in the U.S. must stay here, and could be exported overseas.
“Noise pollution caused by exploration and development would negatively impact fisheries and marine life,” said Sean Dixon, Clean Ocean Action’s Coastal Policy Attorney. “The BP Oil Disaster shows how devastating blow-outs and spills can be to tourism and fishing industries.”
“The sonic airgun testing for oil and gas reserves is a proven destroyer of marine life, causing serious ecosystem problems to all marine life within hundreds of miles of the testing. Marine mammals are especially prone to damage due to their sensitive sonar and face serious permanent harm and outright death from this testing. The endangered right whale’s migratory route runs the whole of the US east coast causing outright fishing bans at times and vessel speed restrictions, yet BOEM wants to blow out their eardrums. Nothing good can come from this testing or the oil and gas drilling that will surely follow,” added Jim Lovgren of Fishermen’s Dock Co-op in Point Pleasant. Fishing catch rates in some cases have been shown to decrease by 40-80% over thousands of square kilometers around a single airgun array.
“The draft Environment Impact Analyses fails to address a number of biological concerns affecting marine fishes as well as potential conflicts with scheduled sportfishing tournaments involving hundreds of recreational vessels,” stated Bruce Freeman, marine fisheries biologist. “In addition, potential conflicts with divers and associated safety concerns have not been recognized.”
“I am totally against offshore seismic exploration because of the dangers it poses sea creatures. The blasts will disorient fish, and have been linked to marine mammal strandings,” said Jeff Hoffberger, from the Surfrider Foundation, and a certified volunteer with the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine. Proposed seismic surveys could interfere with the endangered and vulnerable North Atlantic Right Whale’s migration route through the Mid-Atlantic and calving off the Southeast coast.
Clean Ocean Action is urging people to attend and sign up and testify on April 27th at 1pm, in room 301 of the Atlantic City Convention Center.