Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) today sent letters to President Obama to express their concerns regarding the Department of Interior's (DOI) plan to begin seismic testing off the Atlantic coast. Seismic airgun testing brings the Atlantic coast closer to the risky practice of deepwater oil drilling, the same practice that led to the disastrous Deepwater Horizon Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico three years ago.
Last March, DOI announced its decision to begin seismic testing off the coast of the Mid and South Atlantic, potentially opening up the Atlantic Ocean to offshore drilling. The Administration's Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program involves seismic airgun testing from Delaware to Florida.
Pallone and Lautenberg have been outspoken critics of the Administration's seismic testing plans off the Atlantic Coast as a potential threat to New Jersey's shoreline. New Jersey's economic vitality is strongly dependent on a healthy coastline, which suffered catastrophic damage last October from Superstorm Sandy. New Jersey generates $38 billion per year in economic activity and supports nearly 500,000 jobs from its expansive shoreline and marine industry. Seismic airgun testing could pose numerous dangers to the Atlantic Coast, adding further injury to the state's already fragile waterfront economy.
"Seismic testing is the first step to offshore drilling, and we have to put a stop to it before we experience a Deepwater Horizon-like disaster in the Atlantic," said Rep. Pallone. "Already New Jersey's coastal economy is reeling from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, and our fishing and tourism industries need to be protected from further challenges to their economic and environmental well-being. The time and resources that DOI is allocating to pursuing seismic airgun testing would be better used to invest in renewables that will help us achieve energy independence."
"Drilling for oil near New Jersey's beaches would be a disaster for our economy and environment and this plan to study it should be taken off the table," Lautenberg said. "Superstorm Sandy exposed the vulnerability of New Jersey's shore economy and placing oil rigs off our coast would only escalate the threats to our beaches, businesses, and communities. Congressman Pallone and I will continue working to invest in clean energy solutions that will create good New Jersey jobs, reduce our reliance on oil, and ensure a healthier future for our children."
Airgun noise has been shown to decrease fisheries catch rates by 40-80 percent, posing a significant threat to the fishing industry. Commercial and recreational fishing off the mid- and southeast Atlantic generate $11.8 billion annually and support 222,000 jobs.