Late last week, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), under the Department of Interior, released a document that continues the march toward offshore drilling along our coasts. The document is the final draft of the programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) on proposed oil and gas exploration activities in the mid- and south Atlantic (from Delaware to Central Florida), which lays out general environmental guidelines for how that exploration may be carried out.
Despite receiving tens of thousands of comments from the American people voicing opposition to risky and controversial exploration practices, such as the use of seismic airguns, next to the places we call home, the administration is plowing ahead with plans that may severely jeopardize our coast. Several years of seismic blasting and other tests may take place even before exploratory oil drilling, let alone commercial operation, could occur.
Seismic airguns are a serious issue, as we’ve blogged about before. The crux of the issue is described in the following video from Oceana.
BOEM will require some environmental mitigation measures such as seasonal closures of waters near critical habitat for North Atlantic right whales and loggerhead turtles, although it’s doubtful if these mitigation measures will be effective, given that the noises from seismic blasts can travel for hundreds of miles underwater.
It should go without saying, but exploration is just a precursor to drilling itself. As we saw with the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010, all it takes is one mistake to produce massive environmental, economic, and social consequences that no region should have to bear.
The new document is the programmatic environmental impact statement, meaning that site-specific environmental studies will still have to be carried out, reviewed, and commented upon before any actual permits for testing can be awarded, but given this release, it appears that the Obama administration is prepared to condone dangerous and destructive practices.
If you want to push back against this proposal and say “no” to offshore drilling and exploration, please sign up for the 5th annual Hands Across the Sand events that will take place along our coasts and in your communities on May 17. We will draw our line in the sand and stand up to Big Oil and say “yes” to clean, renewable energy.
BOEM’s document is hundreds of pages long, so it will take a while for the public to get a good understanding of all that is contained inside it, but in the meantime, here are some resources where you can learn more: