Governors, attorneys general join fight against seismic testing

By on December 28, 2018

A display in Nags Head shows a ship towing airguns, in detail. (Voice)

North Carolina’s Attorney General Josh Stein, along with attorneys general from Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Virginia and New York have moved to take their own action 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.”

A 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.

Meanwhile, Bipartisan governors along the coast Thursday urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to prohibit seismic testing and offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.

Gov. Roy Cooper along with Democratic and Republican governors of states along the Atlantic Coast sent a letter Thursday urging the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Commerce to deny all permit applications for seismic testing, exclude the waters off the East Coast from the 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for offshore drilling, avoid issuing further IHAs for seismic airgun surveys and prevent any future offshore drilling efforts in the Atlantic Ocean, according to an announcement from the governor’s office.

The letter was signed by Cooper, Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Gov. John Carney of Delaware, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina, Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia and Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island.

The decision follows months of vocal opposition from states along the East Coast, which have repeatedly urged the federal government to protect coastal tourism and fisheries by halting seismic testing and offshore drilling.


  • Seal

    Three miles out is the limit to state jurisdiction !!!
    Good Luck with that !!!

    Friday, Dec 28 @ 9:44 am
  • Sans

    “North Carolina’s beautiful coastline supports tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity,”

    What does more harm? Seismic testing or the hundreds of thousands people occupying the barrier islands?

    Saturday, Dec 29 @ 5:40 am
  • CorollaCat

    First, no air guns. Second, like I ALWAYS say, everybody calm down.

    Sunday, Dec 30 @ 11:47 pm
  • sean

    https://youtube/5zLUTJOoB8k this is a video of unc showing what seismic testing does. If it doesn’t come up look it up on YouTube it has terrible results don’t care if it’s state fed or international waters.

    Monday, Dec 31 @ 5:02 pm