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Pallone Applauds NJ Lawsuit Challenging Federal Government’s Efforts to Allow Offshore Drilling in New Jersey

December 20, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) applauded a multi-state lawsuit filed to reverse federal approval of seismic testing along the eastern seaboard. Governor Murphy, NJ Attorney General Grewal and NJ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe helped lead the lawsuit designed to protect coastal communities from the dangers of seismic testing and offshore drilling.

The states’ complaint explains that approval of seismic testing permits violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, and National Environmental Policy Act. The suit calls on the district court to declare that National Marine Fisheries Service violated federal law, and seeks to vacate the existing federal approvals for seismic testing in Atlantic waters.

“I am proud to stand with Governor Murphy, Attorney General Grewal and Commissioner McCabe  as they stand up to Trump’s reckless environmental policies  threatening our coast,” said Pallone. “The lawsuit once again exposes not only the hypocrisy of the Trump administration, but also its ignorance about the impact of drilling and seismic testing. A spill anywhere in the Atlantic, from Maine to Florida, could have disastrous consequences for New Jersey’s economy. As the Murphy administration takes this fight to the courts, I will be doing everything within my power in Congress to prevent seismic testing and the offshore drilling that could result from it.”

Last month, the Trump administration approved five Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) permits for companies planning to conduct seismic geological and geophysical surveys along the Atlantic coast. The permits authorize five companies to use seismic airguns that can disturb, harm, and potentially kill not only marine mammals but also a wide range of marine life that support coastal economies from Florida to Maine. The soundwaves produced by these blasts are reflected back to the surface, and measured to determine whether oil, gas, or other minerals are present under the ocean.  This can disrupt migratory patterns, cause marine wildlife to abandon important habitats, disrupt mating and feeding, destroy fish eggs and larvae, and cause deafness in whales and dolphins rendering them unable to communicate and reproduce.  Seismic testing poses a direct threat to important marine life populations and opens the door for the expansion of off-shore drilling in the Atlantic and along New Jersey’s coast.

In June 2017, Pallone led a bipartisan letter from the entire New Jersey Congressional delegation to the National Marine Fisheries Service voicing concerns over a proposal to issue seismic testing permits for the Atlantic Ocean. Also in 2017, the Obama administration denied six pending geophysical and geological (G&G) permit applications to conduct air gun seismic surveys in the Mid- and South Atlantic Planning Areas of the Atlantic Ocean. The decision followed years of effort by Pallone to prevent seismic testing, including his successful urging of the Obama Administration to reject previous seismic testing applications.