WASHINGTON – A bill introduced today in the U.S. Senate would put a moratorium on seismic exploration for oil and natural gas in the Atlantic Ocean.
New Jersey Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, both Democrats, are sponsors of the Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection Act, which would create a moratorium on geological and geophysical activities related to oil and gas exploration off the East Coast.
Although the Obama administration recently removed the Atlantic outer continental shelf from consideration for offshore drilling in the next five years, seismic airgun blasting is still being pursued in an area stretching from Delaware to Florida. Environmental groups and scientists say the areas in the Atlantic are known habitats for at-risk turtles, whales and sharks, as well as commercially and recreationally important fish species.
Last year, 75 marine scientists sent a letter to President Obama on the effects of seismic blasting, saying 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.