Sanford, Scott lead House effort to delay Mid-Atlantic OCS seismic

US Reps. Mark Sanford (R-SC), Robert C. Scott (D-Va.), and 31 other House members asked the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to delay the permitting and review process for potential seismic testing off the Mid-Atlantic Coast until additional environmental and economic impact studies can be conducted.

“The current basis for issuing seismic testing permits is incomplete,” Sanford said on Dec. 10 as he released the letter to BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper that was signed by 8 Republicans and 25 Democrats.

“It does not take into account the long-term effects that seismic testing will have on marine life or the impact on the economy due to industrialization of the coast,” Sanford stated. “Accordingly, we don’t think testing that could profoundly affect our coastal communities should be allowed to proceed based on an insufficient study.”

In an April 2014 update, BOEM’s mean estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable resources along the US Outer Continental Shelf were 4.72 billion bbl of crude oil and 37.51 tcf of natural gas, or 11.4 billion boe. Heaviest concentrations were off Mid-Atlantic states’ coasts.

The letter expressed concern that geologic and geophysical information which would be gathered would be proprietary, and not available to state governments, the public, or other G&G contractors. “Therefore, states will not gain information from seismic air gun testing that would enable them to make a cost-benefit analysis as to whether the risks posed by offshore drilling would outweigh any benefits derived from offshore energy extraction,” it said.

Sanford said that more than 85 US Atlantic coastal towns, cities, and counties have passed resolutions opposing seismic tests or offshore drilling. “Current protocols don’t allow them access to the testing data to determine whether the risks of seismic testing outweigh the potential benefits from offshore drilling,” he said.

Contact Nick Snow at

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