WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) sent a letter to Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, expressing his concern that the results of new proposed seismic testing off the coast of New Jersey could potentially be used to open up the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas exploration. He requested that the agency grant a 60-day extension of public comment and hold a public hearing to sufficiently review the application submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to conduct marine seismic surveys off the coast of New Jersey. NMFS has proposed granting permission for the tests that would potentially be conducted this summer.
Congressman Pallone, an outspoken critic of seismic testing and offshore drilling off the Atlantic Coast due to its potential threat to New Jersey’s shoreline, stated that an extension of the public comment period was absolutely necessary so that residents have sufficient time to voice their concerns regarding the testing. Pallone also stressed the need for additional time in order to evaluate the application and determine what implications the seismic surveying may have for the New Jersey coast.
“An environmentally sound coast is critical to New Jersey’s economy, and I remain concerned with any activity that could lead to oil and gas drilling off our coast,” said Congressman Pallone. “Any proposal to conduct seismic surveying in the Atlantic Ocean must be reviewed with the utmost care and diligence. Otherwise, we risk injuring and disturbing critically endangered species and threatening the Jersey shore, a center of recreational and economic use.”
The full text of the letter is below:
April 4, 2014
Dr. Kathryn Sullivan
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Administrator Sullivan:
I am writing to express my opposition to seismic surveying in the Atlantic Ocean and to highlight my concerns with a proposal to perform seismic surveying off the coast of New Jersey currently being reviewed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Seismic surveying can injure or kill fish and marine mammals and puts at risk endangered species, such as the North Atlantic right whale. I am also concerned that the seismic surveying results could be used in the pursuit of opening up areas off New Jersey’s coast for oil and gas exploration—an area President Obama has clearly designated as off-limits.
I request that NOAA grant a 60-day extension of public comment and hold a public hearing to review the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) proposed Incidental Harassment Authorization for takes of marine mammals incidental to marine seismic surveys off the coast of New Jersey. An extension of the comment period and a public hearing are absolutely necessary so that the public can evaluate the application, the draft Environmental Assessment (EA), the purpose and goals of the seismic survey and any implications the seismic surveying may have for New Jersey and its coastal area.
In addition, given that the proposed action relies on a 2013 draft Environmental Assessment and a 2011 final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), additional time is needed to review all of the documentation. The potential for significant harm, along with the unique biology and environment of the proposed area within 15.5 miles of the Jersey shore, demand careful consideration as to whether the proposed action and corresponding draft EA prepared by the applicants are in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations.
While I support scientific endeavors to better understand climate change, I believe that it is NOAA’s best interest and that of the people of New Jersey that the agency grant a 60-day extension of public comment and hold a public hearing on the proposed authorization in the near term. Therefore, I call on NOAA to act expeditiously in taking such action.
Thank you for your consideration of this letter.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress