|Seismic research in Atlantic moves toward OK|
Published: March 28, 2012 1:13 PM
By The Associated Press
NORFOLK, Va. - (AP) -- The Interior Department is moving toward allowing studies in the Atlantic Ocean that could ultimately result in offshore drilling.
A programmatic environmental impact statement on seismic testing was released Wednesday. The testing would be used to determine how much oil and natural gas is available and where the best places to drill would be, among other things. The studies also help identify archaeological and geologic hazards to avoid. Companies would use the information to determine where to apply for energy leases.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he would make his ruling by the end of the year, following a series of public meetings from Delaware to Florida.
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Government seeks comment on Atlantic oil exploration plan
By Brock Vergakis, Associated Press
Obama OKs Oil Exploration Along Atlantic Coast, But Not Drilling
Mar 28, 2012 1:11pm
The announcement by the Interior Department sets into motion what will be at least a five year environmental survey to determine whether and where oil production might occur.
Drilling off the Atlantic Coast moves a step closer
By Darryl Fears, The Washington Post
The Obama administration on Wednesday took a significant step toward allowing oil and natural gas companies to drill off the coasts of Virginia and other Eastern Seaboard states.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a plan to allow companies to conduct seismic mapping surveys on the outer continental shelf of the Atlantic Coast from Delaware to the middle of Florida.
“As part of our offshore energy strategy, we want to open the opportunity .... to conduct seismic exploration .... so we can know what resources exist in those areas,” Salazar said in Norfolk. “The fact is our information is .... 30 years old, and it’s out of date. The bottom line is it’s an important safe step to understand what resources are out there.”
In addition to assessing how much oil and natural gas is in the area, seismic testing would help determine the best places for wind turbines and other renewable energy projects, locate sand and gravel for restoring eroding coastal areas, and identify cultural artifacts such as historic sunken ships.
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, in a statement, praised the announcement as “a small step forward in the development of our offshore energy resources.” But he also chided the administration for not allowing oil exploration off Virginia last year, a “breakthrough that would have led to the creation of thousands of new jobs in our state, generated significant revenues for state and local governments, and led to more domestic energy production.”
Environmental groups attacked the survey proposal, saying the sonic booms could injure hundreds of thousands of dolphins and whales and disrupt the feeding, mating and reproductive patterns of marine mammals millions of times each year.
“They’re acoustic animals. They’ve evolved over millions of years,” said Michael Jasny, a senior analyst for the Natural Resources Defence Council. “To take away their ability to hear, to damage their ears could be like a death sentence.”
“Why explore when we don’t want drilling in the first place?” asked Eileen Levandoski, a Virginia Beach resident who works for the Sierra Club’s Virginia chapter. “While the [Gulf of Mexico] and its people are today still reeling from the BP gulf oil spill disaster, there are huge incidents right now occurring off the coast of Scotland in the North Sea and off the Brazilian coast. The risk continues to be real and formidable.”
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has received about 10 requests for permits from companies that conduct seismic surveys and sell the data to oil companies. Seismic surveys map hundreds of miles of ocean with acoustic waves that reveal contours of the ocean floor.
Surveys could begin early next year. Before that happens, BOEM will hold public hearings in Annapolis, Norfolk, Savannah and five other cities along the coast. Public comment is scheduled to end May 30, and the process of incorporating the testimony and finalizing the plan will take the rest of the year.
McDonnell’s government said 80 percent of Virginians support offshore oil and gas exploration. The governor said not allowing exploration last year pushed back any possibility of lease sales to 2018, at the earliest, and he said $4-a-gallon gasoline prices are evidence that exploration is needed.
Salazar, echoing Obama and economic experts, said that “there is no silver bullet for high gas prices” and that current domestic gas production is higher than any time in the past eight years.
“I’m proud of the progress that we’ve made over the last three years. Domestic gas and oil production is up, foreign imports of oil are down,” Salazar said. “In fact, imports of oil decreased by a million barrels a day in the last year alone.”
Tommy Beaudreau, director of BOEM, said planning surveys takes time. “Seismic surveys are important ... but you need to be careful to manage the potential environmental effects, including effects on marine mammals.”
Jasny said those effects will be significant. He said that the technique has been used in many waters and that “seismic air guns have an enormous environmental footprint.
“Humpback whales and fin whales, both endangered, have been shown to fall silent and abandon habitat over areas of hundreds of thousands of square miles. Fish have been displaced over vast areas.
“Fishermen have complained for years about losses in catch,” he said.
Staff writer Anita Kumar contributed to this report.
Pallone, environmentalists decry proposed seismic testing in Atlantic
9:44 PM, Mar. 28, 2012
“It would destroy the tourism industry all up and down the East Coast,” he said, adding that there is so little oil in the Atlantic Ocean that the risk outweighs the benefit.
Drilling our Atlantic Coast - NRDC
The sound impact from can displace marine mammals, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale, away from nurseries and foraging, mating, spawning, and migratory corridors. Seismic airgun surveys also have been shown to damage or kill fish and fish larvae and have been implicated in whale beaching and stranding incidents.
Keep in mind what has been decided.
It is not a decision to permit drilling off the Atlantic Coast.
It is not a decision to lease land for drilling off the Atlantic Coast.
It is not a decision to permit seismic surveys off the Atlantic Coast.
It is a decision to make a decision by the end of the year (most likely after the election)
whether to proceed with a five year environmental survey to determine whether and where oil production might occur that would include new modern seismic data.