Quantcast
Popular
Christian Aslund / Greenpeace

Trump Administration One Step Closer to Approving Seismic Airgun Blasting

The Trump administration issued Monday a draft Incidental Harassment Authorizations for seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean, an extremely loud and dangerous process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean's surface. By issuing these draft Incidental Harassment Authorizations for public comment, Oceana said the federal government is giving another gift to the oil industry—moving forward with the permitting process that gives geophysical companies permission to harm or disturb marine life in the pursuit of offshore oil.


According to the government's own estimates, seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic could injure as many as 138,000 marine mammals like dolphins and whales, while disturbing the vital activities of millions more.

"This threat is real and it's coming fast," said Nancy Pyne, campaign director at Oceana. "Coastal communities have the most to lose, but unfortunately their overwhelming opposition may be ignored by the Trump administration. The threats of seismic airgun blasting alone are bad enough, but it's also the first step to offshore drilling, which could lead to the industrialization of coastal communities and the risk of another BP Deepwater Horizon-like disaster. The time to protect our coast is now."

In late April, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at expanding offshore drilling and exploration in U.S. waters. Specifically, the order calls for a review of the Five-Year Program (2017-2022) for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf , and directs the administration to fast-track the permitting process for seismic airgun blasting. Following that directive, the Trump administration re-initiated the permitting process for seismic airgun blasting in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida, reversing a decision by the Obama administration to deny these permits.

As of today, 125 East Coast municipalities, more than 1,200 elected officials, numerous commercial and recreational fishing interests, and an alliance representing more than 41,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have publicly opposed offshore drilling and/or seismic airgun blasting. An Oceana report in 2015 found that offshore oil and gas development in the Atlantic could jeopardize the nearly 1.4 million jobs and more than $95 billion in gross domestic product that rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation.

"Seismic airguns create one of the loudest manmade sounds in the ocean," said Dr. Ingrid Biedron, marine scientist and campaign manager at Oceana. "Seismic airguns fire intense blasts of compressed air every 10 to 12 seconds, 24 hours a day, for weeks to months on end. The noise from these blasts is so loud that it can be heard up to 2,500 miles from the source, which is approximately the distance of a flight from New York City to Los Angeles.

"In addition to being extremely loud, these blasts are of special concern to marine life, including fish, turtles and whales, which depend on sound for communication and survival," said Biedron. "Numerous studies demonstrate the impacts that seismic airgun noise has on ocean ecosystems, including reduced catch rates of commercially valuable fish and silencing bowhead whales."

In 2015, 75 leading marine scientists sent a letter to President Obama on the impacts of seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean, stating that 'the magnitude of the proposed seismic activity is likely to have significant, long-lasting, and widespread impacts on the reproduction and survival of fish and marine mammal populations in the region, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, of which only about 500 remain."

While there is now a mandatory 30-day comment period for the draft Incidental Harassment Authorizations, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management could approve seismic airgun blasting permits any day.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Slava Bowman / Unsplash

How Can We Help Put a Human Face on Climate Change?

By John R. Platt

Communicating the truths about climate change isn't always easy. Sometimes the effects of climate change seem to hover in the future, or are occurring most visibly in other parts of the world. Other times they're subtle—at least for now. And of course, there are some people who just don't want to hear anything about it.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Aerial view of Yaguas River and the Cachimbo tributary. Alvaro del Campo, Field Museum

Peru's Newest National Park Safeguards 2 Million Acres of Amazon Rainforest

The Peruvian government announced it will establish a new and enormous national park in the Amazon.

Yaguas National Park, located in the northern region of Loreto, consists of 2,147,166 acres of rainforest, a vast river system and is home to more than 3,000 species of plants, 500 species of birds and 160 species of mammals, including giant otters, woolly monkeys, Amazonian river dolphins and manatees. The park also features 550 fish species—one of the richest fish faunas in the world.

Keep reading... Show less
Molteno Dam Reservoir in Cape Town. Wikimedia Commons

Will Cape Town Become the First Major City to Run Out of Water?

Cape Town is on track to become the first major city in the world to run out of water.

The world-renowned tourist destination—and the second-most populous urban area in South Africa after Johannesburg—could approach "Day Zero," when most taps run dry, by April 21, Mayor Patricia de Lille said Tuesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
The mountains of Haiti. PO2 Daniel Barker / DVIDS

Haiti’s Most Popular Ecotourism Destinations

The tropical Caribbean island of Haiti is a paradise with a rich, fascinating history, natural wonders and diverse cultural offerings. It has also been named by some as the next big thing in regional tourism.

But ecotourism in particular could become important for Haiti, with its rich land and sea biodiversity. Globally, the business of ecotourism generates more than $600 billion a year and is connected to hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
iStock

Nearly All Coastal Governors Denounce Plan to Expand Offshore Oil Drilling

Politicians from coastal states around the country continue to call for their states to be exempt from the Trump administration's proposed expansion of offshore drilling following its politically-tinged decision last week to remove Florida from the plan.

The Interior Department said last week that Secretary Ryan Zinke had spoken with seven coastal governors opposed to drilling, including the governors of North and South Carolina, Rhode Island, Delaware and Washington. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's office told press Zinke would consider removing the state from the plan following their call, while California Gov. Jerry Brown's office reports that Zinke promised to travel to the state to further discuss the offshore leases.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Rob Hainer / IStock

In Alabama, a Cleanup Unearths Toxins—and Scandal

By Matt Smith

Lot by lot, backhoes and dump trucks are scraping and hauling away yards on the north side of Birmingham to remove soil laced with heavy metals and other industrial wastes—the legacy of this city's years as a steelmaking power.

Federal prosecutors say that effort also uncovered something else: a scheme to save polluters millions by putting the neighborhood's representative in Montgomery on their payroll.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Brian Wanamaker / Flickr

Two Major Food Companies Announce War on Packaging Waste

More and more businesses are stepping up to reduce consumer waste. Iceland Foods, a major UK supermarket chain specializing in frozen food, announced on Tuesday that it will eliminate plastic packaging from its own brand of products by the end of 2023.

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, McDonald's said it will add recycling to its more than 36,000 locations around the world by 2025 and pledges that all packaging on customer products will come from "renewable, recycled or certified sources" by that same year.

Keep reading... Show less
Leszek Leszczynski / Flickr

Would a Beef Tax Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

By Michael von Massow and John Cranfield

Will taxing meat products based on their carbon footprint reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve public health? The answer is maybe, but not notably—and it will come with significant costs.

A recent study in the journal Nature Climate Change advocates applying taxes to the consumption of meat as a means of lowering GHG emissions.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!