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Coalition of Attorneys General Oppose First Step in Plan to Permit Offshore Drilling

July 21st, 2017 by WCBC Radio

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, joined by attorneys general from eight other states, today submitted comments opposing the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) proposal to conduct deep penetration surveys in the Atlantic Ocean.  In the letter submitted today, the attorneys general point out that the surveys pose a significant risk to the coastline, the environment, and to marine life.

 

“The proposed seismic tests are themselves disruptive and harmful. Worse, they are the precursors to offshore drilling that would put the Chesapeake Bay at risk to drilling related contamination,” said Attorney General Frosh.  “That contamination would have catastrophic impacts on fragile ecosystems and important economies. This is a foolish gamble with our precious natural resources.”

 

To conduct the surveys, vessels tow large arrays of seismic air guns that shoot loud blasts of compressed air through the ocean and miles under the seafloor, every 10 seconds for days, sometimes weeks.  The air gun blasting can cause disruptions in migration, feeding and reproduction of marine mammals, fish and other marine creatures on the ocean floor.   The harm caused by seismic surveys has been studied and documented by scientists.  A study published this year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – the agency that oversees NMFS – concluded that reef fish abundance declined 78% during seismic testing.  Scientists for the first time found last month that air gun blasts kill large numbers of zooplankton, the invertebrates at the base of the marine food chain necessary to the survival of many marine species.  In the letter submitted today, the attorneys general note, “NMFS has failed to meet its responsibility under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to effect ‘the least practicable adverse impact on such species or stock and its habitat.’

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