A new proposal by the Trump administration will allow oil companies to use seismic air guns to search for fossil fuel deposits in the Atlantic Ocean, according to reports emerging from Washington.
Former President Barack Obama had blocked this form of testing due to dangers posed to marine wildlife in the area. The current White House needs Marine Mammal Protection Act permits from a specialized branch of the Commerce Department to allow five companies to use the technique.
"An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if [the National Marine Fisheries Service] finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species," a Federal Register notice, scheduled for publication on Tuesday, read. The agency will accept public comments through July 7th before deciding whether to grant the required permits. An approval would allow the seismic gun shots to fire in the Fall.
Trump’s April executive order, which expanded areas available for offshore drilling, included certain areas of the East coast. There are currently no active rigs in coastal waters ranging from Delaware to Florida. Any new extraction projects could take years to bring into production after an initial exploration period.
“You should be excited,” Interior Secretary Zinke told attendees at an offshore drilling conference in Houston last month, just weeks after signing a departmental order approving the seismic testing. “If you’re in the oil and gas and energy segment in this society … the stars are lined up. We’re going to make jobs, we’re going to bring the economy ahead.”
The Southern Environmental Law Center argues that the seismic guns are “risky” and “pave the way for offshore drilling, which would be a direct hit to our economic, environment, communities and way of life.”
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…