Sending Office: Honorable Donald S. Beyer, Jr.
Sent By: Kate.Schisler@mail.house.gov

Dear Colleague:

In response to widespread opposition from Atlantic coast stakeholders, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) previously denied permits for seismic airgun blasting for subsea oil and gas deposits in the Mid- and South Atlantic Planning Areas. Currently, the new Administration is reexamining those permits.

Allowing seismic airgun blasting in an area twice the size of California would cause undue harm to marine resources including fish, dolphins, turtles and the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.  Impacts from seismic airgun blasting can include disrupting breathing, migration and feeding behaviors for marine mammals and significant displacement of fish. Seismic airgun pulses are loud, repetitive, explosive sounds that travel miles below the seafloor, and back to the surface. Because sound travels so efficiently underwater, the noise from seismic airgun blasting can be heard up to 2,500 miles from the source, roughly the distance from Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas.

Most seismic data are proprietary and are not shared with the public, local leaders, or federal elected officials. It will therefore be impossible for coastal citizens to weigh the profitability of offshore oil and gas deposits against their coastal livelihoods. Along the Atlantic coast, nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism, and recreation.

The Mid- and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils have policy positions expressing opposition (mid-Atlantic) and serious reservations (South Atlantic) to seismic airgun blasting for oil and gas because of negative impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries. The Department of Defense and NASA have also expressed concern about the compatibility of their activities with ongoing oil and gas operations.

Protect Atlantic Coast communities and marine resources from seismic airgun blasting. Support the bipartisan Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection (ASAP) Act.

If you have any questions about this bill, please contact Chris Burk (chris.burk@mail.house.gov) or Matt Moran (matt.moran@mail.house.gov).

Sincerely,

Don Beyer                                                         Frank LoBiondo

Member of Congress                                        Member of Congress

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Selected legislative information: Energy, Environment, Natural Resources