Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Amid great public outcry about the Rutgers ocean blasting study off Barnegat Light, NJ, two larger-scale seismic projects have recently been announced that together span the entire Eastern Seaboard.  This triple-threat of ocean blasting includes a United States Geological Survey (USGS) seismic study of the continental shelf for sovereignty and tsunami hazard investigations and the Obama Administration’s approval of seismic testing in the mid- and south-Atlantic for the purposes of locating potential oil and gas deposits.
Photo by Ryan Morrill

Although Rutgers University was given the final approval on July 2 to conduct their 30-day seismic survey, it is unclear if the researchers have been able to conduct any ocean blasting since that time.  First, the State of New Jersey went to the District Court and then to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to request a temporary halt to the study, which they were ultimately denied.  Also, the ship to be used in the testing has twice experienced equipment failures and returned to port; the vessel was still moored in Brooklyn as of July 29.  Rutgers’ time with the ship is running out, as their federal approvals expire on August 17 and the USGS has reserved the same vessel from mid-August to mid-September for the first leg of their two-part seismic survey of the Atlantic continental shelf.  The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued conditional approval for the USGS to harass 19,497 marine mammals with their study.  COA submitted extensive comments to NMFS, which urged further environmental review of the project’s impacts to marine life and greater consideration of alternatives and stronger mitigation measures.  On July 18, the Obama Administration issued its final authorization for seismic surveys in the mid- and south-Atlantic Ocean associated with oil and gas exploration.  The Atlantic coast has been under a drilling moratorium for decades, and this decision brings oil and gas companies one step closer to offshore drilling by allowing them to start looking for fossil fuels off our shores.

Visit to sign the petition against ocean blasting approved to take place now off Barnegat Light.

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