Sunday, January 08, 2017

Obama Admin Nixes All Atlantic Oil and Gas Exploration

Environmentalists argued that seismic surveys could negatively affect the endangered North Atlantic right whale.  (Photo Credit: NOAA) Click to Enlarge.
The Obama administration has denied all applications to conduct seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean, citing a "diminished need" for oil and gas companies to map the seafloor in a search for mineral deposits.
The decision comes two weeks after Obama banned drilling in parts of the Atlantic and most of the Arctic.  The Interior Department also had previously removed Atlantic waters from its five-year oil and gas drilling plan.
Abigail Ross Hopper, director of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said that the agency was "guided by an abundance of caution," ultimately deciding that the potential risks to marine life outweighed the value of the surveys.
"Since federal waters in the Mid and South Atlantic have been removed from leasing consideration for the next five years, there is no immediate need for these surveys," she said in a statement.
Seismic surveys use air guns to create images of the geology beneath the seafloor, enabling oil and gas companies to find untapped mineral deposits. BOEM received six applications for the surveys because of initial plans — later reversed — to open the Atlantic to drilling for the first time in decades.
Scientists say the surveys can mask whale calls and interrupt breeding and feeding .  The oil and gas industry has said that such concerns are overblown; seismic surveys have been conducted in the Gulf of Mexico for years. Companies are also required to follow numerous mitigation measures, including hiring observers to watch for marine mammals in the area.
In a press release, BOEM said it decided to deny the seismic survey permits because the information may not be used at all or may become outdated if the Atlantic isn't leased soon.  It also asserted that "lower impact technology" will probably be developed before such geophysical and geological information is needed.
Read more at Obama Admin Nixes All Atlantic Oil and Gas Exploration

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