The North Carolina Coastal Federation joined other environmental groups in an intervention to prevent the seismic industry from challenging the denial of permits for conducting seismic surveys off the Atlantic coast.
The Southern Environmental Law Center filed the motion on behalf of the federation, the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, One Hundred Miles and Defenders of Wildlife on May 1.
The federation is against all seismic surveys off the North Carolina coast and has submitted comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) outlining the reasons why.
“We oppose seismic surveys that are the first step toward drilling for oil and gas off the coast of North Carolina,” said Todd Miller, executive director of the North Carolina Coastal Federation, in a statement to the SELC. “These surveys are too big a risk for whales, dolphin and fish, and will interfere with commercial and recreational fishing activities for extended periods of time.”
Studies have shown that noise from seismic surveys affect marine mammals and fish, sometimes decreasing catch rates.
Six companies had pending applications for permits to conduct seismic surveys in the Atlantic. BOEM formally denied these applications in January.
In its denial, BOEM cited the potential harm these surveys might cause to wildlife and the Obama administration’s December 2016 ban on offshore oil drilling as the main reasons for refusing the permit requests.
Seismic surveys involve the use of air guns to send sonic waves toward the ocean floor to gauge the location and depth of oil and gas. In March 2016, BOEM removed the Atlantic from consideration for offshore drilling for the 2017-22 planning period. In December of that year, the Obama administration banned offshore drilling in the Atlantic.
President Trump in April signed an executive order that puts offshore oil drilling off the Atlantic coast back into consideration. The order directs the Department of Interior to review locations for offshore oil and gas exploration. The federation remains opposed to all offshore drilling and is encouraging North Carolina residents to ask Gov. Roy Cooper to tell the federal government the state’s waters are off limits to drilling.