RALEIGH — North Carolina’s Attorney General Josh Stein, along with attorneys general from Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Virginia and New York moved Thursday to intervene in a lawsuit to stop the proposed use of airguns to survey the Atlantic Ocean floor for oil and gas.
“North Carolina’s beautiful coastline supports tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity,” said Stein in a statement. “That is why I am fighting this move to take our state one step closer to offshore drilling. I will continue to do everything in my power to protect our state’s coast.”
The pending lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, and federal officials was filed last week in South Carolina by a coalition of local and national non-governmental organizations.
“In moving to intervene on the side of the organizations, the attorneys general are seeking to file their own complaint on behalf of their respective states, “according to the announcement.
The seismic testing surveys is one step closer to allowing offshore drilling, “An action that would result in severe and potentially irreparable harm to our coastline and its critically important tourism and fishing economy,” the release continued.
Five private companies applied in 2014 and 2015 to the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, for permits to use air guns for seismic testing to search for oil and gas on the Atlantic Ocean floor. In July 2017, Stein urged the NMFS to deny the incidental harassment authorization, or IHA, applications.
NMFS granted the companies’ applications for IHAs in November 2018. In challenging the grant of the IHAs, the coalition of attorneys general charges that approval of the permits violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Procedure Act.