Pallone Fights Back Against Efforts to Expand Seismic Testing and Offshore Drilling Into Atlantic Ocean

Jan 10, 2014 Issues: Environment, New Jersey

Interior Department Official Reports that Environmental Report on Seismic Testing in the Atlantic Will Be Finalized Without Complete Marine Mammal Impact Guidelines

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) continued his push against oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic at a hearing in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. 

At the hearing Pallone questioned Deputy Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Walter Cruickshank and expressed his concern regarding the inevitable environmental and economic costs of expanding oil and gas exploration into the Atlantic Ocean.

Pallone continued his opposition to seismic testing in the Atlantic and requested that BOEM not finalize its Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) before the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration completes guidelines on the impact of sound on marine life, such as endangered whales.  Deputy Director Cruickshank responded negatively and said that the Bureau intends to move forward with finalizing their PEIS without waiting for this important new scientific guidance.

Pallone also focused on the cost that drilling would have on jobs in New Jersey.  “In New Jersey, the tourism sector, which is anchored to our clean beaches and ocean, generated $34.7 billion in 2012 alone—that is 7.0 percent of the entire state economy,” said Pallone.  “Tourism sustained more than 500,000 jobs or 10 percent of total employment in the state.  Commercial fishing supports more than 43,000 jobs and recreational fishing supports almost another 10,000 jobs.  What assurances can you offer me and my constituents that oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic will not put these jobs and my state’s economy at risk?”

The Deputy Director stated that the Department of Interior has made no decisions about whether to move forward with drilling in the Atlantic.  He conceded that implementing the recommendations of the National Commission on the B. P. Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling by Congress would improve drilling safety.  However, Pallone noted that House Republican leadership has refused to implement the Commission’s recommendations

Pallone also questioned Dr. Donald Boesch, a member of the Commission, about their recommendation that Congress give NOAA a formal consultative role during Interior’s development of offshore drilling plans.  Dr. Boesch agreed that NOAA should be involved as the agency responsible for monitoring and researching marine mammals.  Pallone called on Congress to enact this reform.