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Scientists Warn About Seismic Tests

As N.C. officials evaluate a third request of offshore seismic testing, scientists warned President Obama in a letter last week that such testing for oil and gas beneath the Atlantic Ocean floor is likely to have significant, long-lasting and widespread effects on the reproduction and survival of fish and marine mammals.

The letter was written in response to the administration’s announcement last month that it will, for the first time, open areas off the U.S. mid-Atlantic and south Atlantic coasts for fossil fuel exploitation.

The first step in that process is to find the fossil fuel deposits, which involves using arrays of high-volume air guns that fire about every 10-12 seconds, often for weeks or months at a time. The volume of the air guns is nearly as loud as the sound produced by underwater chemical explosives.

The protest letter was signed by 75 leading marine scientists who have studied the effects of seismic testing. It urges Obama to reject the Department of the Interior’s analysis and its decision to introduce seismic oil and gas surveys in the Atlantic.

State regulators recently received a third submission for offshore seismic survey. Under federal law a number of activities are required to comply with the enforceable policies of the state’s coastal management program – even if those activities do not require permits under state law. State regulators will now evaluate the testing applications for conformance with the state’s coastal program.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.