Pallone Insists Public Meeting Be Held in New Jersey on Seismic Testing

Mar 24, 2015 Issues: Environment, Fisheries, New Jersey

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6) sent a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), requesting that the agency hold a public meeting in New Jersey so that residents can make their voices heard on the issue of seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean.  BOEM announced that they intend to hold public sessions to discuss the process by which interested parties can obtain geological and geophysical (G&G) permits to conduct seismic testing off the Atlantic Coast.  However, of the eight meetings scheduled, not a single public forum has been planned in the state of New Jersey.

“We’ve seen that oil spills don’t respect state borders.  Similarly, marine mammals and fish migrate and cross over state borders.  This testing is harmful to marine life up and down the Atlantic Coast and simply serves as the first major step towards offshore oil drilling, to which I am absolutely opposed,” said Congressman Pallone.  “This decision by BOEM is deeply disappointing, and I fundamentally disagree with their plans to move forward.  At the very minimum, though, New Jerseyans who will face the consequences of this seismic testing must be allowed to make their opinions heard at a public meeting in our state.”

Last July, BOEM issued a decision to allow for further environmental review of G&G survey activities off the Mid- and South Atlantic coast.  As a part of the ongoing public comment period on the plan, BOEM has organized a series of open houses to share information on the G&G permitting process along the Atlantic Coast.  Currently, eight companies have already submitted permit applications to perform seismic testing in the Atlantic, which BOEM is reviewing.

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, made clear that a New Jersey hearing necessary so that residents have an opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the testing.

The full text of the letter is below:

 

 

March 24, 2015

Abigail Ross Hopper

Director

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

1849 C Street, NW

Washington DC 20240

 

Dear Director Hopper,

I write today regarding the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) plans for Geological and Geophysical (G&G) surveying, or seismic airgun testing, off the Atlantic Coast.  I am deeply disappointed that BOEM is moving forward with seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic and am concerned about the serious negative impacts it will have on our marine resources.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has planned a series of open houses to share information on the G&G permitting process along the Atlantic Coast and I am displeased with the fact that an open house has not been scheduled in New Jersey.  I respectfully request that another open house be added to the schedule in New Jersey so the residents of my state can have their voices heard on this plan.

The type of seismic airgun testing used to search for oil and gas is incredibly harmful and could injure or kill thousands of marine mammals and fish, including endangered species.  Seismic airguns fire intense blasts of compressed air – almost as loud as explosives – every 10-12 seconds, 24 hours a day, for weeks and months on end. These loud airgun blasts can be heard for many hundreds of miles in the ocean and, as a result, can drive whales to abandon their habitats, go silent, and cease foraging over vast areas. At shorter distances, it can cause permanent hearing loss, injury, and even death for whales, dolphins and fish. 

According to the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) own estimates, the use of airguns would injure up to 138,500 marine mammals and disrupt marine mammal feeding, calving, breeding, and other vital activities more than 13.5 million times. These impacts would include unacceptable levels of injuries and disturbances to critically endangered species, like the North Atlantic right whale, of which there are less than 400 remaining.  It could also disrupt fish species important to New Jersey and New Jersey fishermen.

I am categorically opposed to seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic, but at a minimum the residents of my state deserve to have their voices heard on this dangerous proposal.  I thank you for your attention to this important matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

FRANK PALLONE, JR.

Member of Congress