Categories: NASA

Feds Propose Oil & Gas Exploration Off U.S. East Coast

Photo: Members of the Surfrider Foundation Protest Seismic Air Gun Testing at the 2013 Cocoa Beach Christmas Parade. Brevard Times / File

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (DOI) released a final proposal today to allow the use of controversial seismic airguns, to look for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware Bay to just south of Cape Canaveral, Florida.


“By failing to consider relevant science, the Obama administration’s decision could be a death sentence for many marine mammals, needlessly turning the Atlantic Ocean into a blast zone,” said Jacqueline Savitz, Vice President for U.S. Oceans at Oceana. “If seismic airguns are allowed in the Atlantic, it will jeopardize wildlife as well as commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism and coastal recreation—putting more than 730,000 jobs in the blast zone at risk. In its rush to finalize this proposal, the Obama administration is failing to consider the cumulative impacts that these repeated dynamite-like blasts will have on vital behaviors like mating, feeding, breathing, communicating and navigating.
Today’s decision comes one week after more than 100 scientists called on President Obama and his administration to wait on new acoustic guidelines for marine mammals, which are currently in development by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
“With offshore drilling in the Atlantic more than four years away, there is absolutely no justification for failing to include the best available science in this decision,” said Savitz. “Seismic airguns create one of the loudest manmade sounds in the ocean, and we should be doing everything we can to protect marine life from their loud blasts. These devices are loud enough to kill small animals like fish eggs and larvae at close ranges and can disrupt the behavior of large animals like whales and dolphins from up to 100 miles away. It’s as if the Obama administration has learned nothing from the destruction that similar testing has caused off the coasts of Namibia, Australia and Madagascar.”
Off the Florida coast, DOI estimates that 40-50 percent of the sampling will occur at existing borrow sites such as Canaveral Shoals and Jacksonville.
Beyond the environmental concerns, the proposal requires oil and gas explorers to address conflicts of their operations with NASA and the Department of Defense (DoD). NASA has designated downrange danger zones and has identified patterns for recent debris cones from rocket tests that represent hazards for surface activities after such tests. There are also restricted areas for rocket testing, satellite launches, and other range mission activities.
NASA restricted areas within the proposed exploration areas are offshore the Goddard Space Flight Center’s (GSFC’s) Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in Virginia and offshore of the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Also, five major DoD range complexes include periodic vessel access restrictions to portions each range complex.

Oil and gas explorers would be required to notify designated DoD or NASA personnel of the nature and schedule for any pending exploration activity planned within military range complexes or NASA’s use areas.

Additionally, commercial fishing would be temporarily excluded from any exploration operation areas.

View Comments

  • Vibracoring is a method of geological sampling unrelated to seismic air blasting. Also Oceana is not a very good source for information on the effects of seismic. They tend to overlook all the research done on the effects of seismic blasting in the Gulf of Mexico and instead like to rehash strange speculations on the cause of isolated stranding 20 years ago. While constant vigilance is needed a little knowledge helps. Do not forget that since 2003 all seismic testing has been done with 3 or more biologists on every vessel mitigating the effects. In addition there have been many dedicated studies tracking and observing whales during seismic surveys. No one ever mentions them. Brad MartinMarine Mammal Obsever

  • Also vibracoring is used for shallow water sediment sampling. The article mentions sampling at borrow sites at Cape Canaveral shoals. Vibracoring would be used in association with dredging and the use of sand for beach renourishment. Not for oil exploration. It is a relatively benign operation.

  • Thank you, Mr. Martin. After research into the issue, equating vibracoring to seismic air blasting has been removed.

  • "Off the Florida coast, DOI estimates that 40-50 percent of the sampling will occur at existing borrow sites such as Canaveral Shoals and Jacksonville."Misleading statement.Sampling for sand for beach renourishment is not seismic either.Also the statements by Oceana about fish larvae are unfounded. Actually so is the statement about disrupting behavior 100 miles off. Also the mentioning of seismic in other countries is hyperbole, especially since fully documented seismic surveying has been going on for 12 years in the Gulf of Mexico without incident and that is not even mentioned. Sounds like you got sucked by scare tactics of an extremist group. There are far better sources. But thanks for the heads up anyhow.Brad Martin, BS BiologyIndependent certified worldwide Marine Mammal Observer

  • But wait, the price of gas isn't high enough yet to satisfy the Democrats. Just wait, the Feds will interfere with this somehow.

  • Actually, we have pefect pristine beaches from Maine to Key West. Playa Linda Beach (where I live) is a paradise.One, and I mean one, ruptured oil well will destroy the entire coast because of the Gulf Stream.I don't recommend drilling anywhere near the beaches, instead I suggest drill in Alaska where there is enough oil to last 500 years. Alaska is being used by animals, our beaches are being used by people. Who comes first ? Al Schrader

  • Vibracoring is a method of geological sampling unrelated to seismic air blasting. Also Oceana is not a very good source for information on the effects of seismic. They tend to overlook all the research done on the effects of seismic blasting in the Gulf of Mexico and instead like to rehash strange speculations on the cause of isolated stranding 20 years ago. While constant vigilance is needed a little knowledge helps. Do not forget that since 2003 all seismic testing has been done with 3 or more biologists on every vessel mitigating the effects. In addition there have been many dedicated studies tracking and observing whales during seismic surveys. No one ever mentions them. Brad MartinMarine Mammal Obsever

  • Also vibracoring is used for shallow water sediment sampling. The article mentions sampling at borrow sites at Cape Canaveral shoals. Vibracoring would be used in association with dredging and the use of sand for beach renourishment. Not for oil exploration. It is a relatively benign operation.

  • Thank you, Mr. Martin. After research into the issue, equating vibracoring to seismic air blasting has been removed.

Copyright 2011-2023 Brevard Times. All Rights Reserved. Contact Us Privacy Policy