Department of Interior asked to delay seismic testing permits approval

Department of Interior asked to delay seismic testing permits approval

April 26, 2019

Columbia, SC—Today the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce submitted a formal request to U.S. Department of Interior David Bernhardt to delay the approval of seismic testing permits needed for the exploration of oil in the Atlantic.

The letter cites news reports that the Department’s efforts on a new five-year plan for offshore drilling leases is being delayed for an indefinite period, possibly until after the 2020 election, due to a recent court decision and Republican opposition.

“It only stands to reason that if there is confusion as to what a draft five-year plan will include when it is released, then we should not be exploring for oil deposits in offshore areas that might not be in that plan. The highly destructive seismic technology employed in parts of or all the Atlantic in speculation that those areas might be in a five-year plan cannot be justified.”

The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and 16 of the state’s coastal cities filed a lawsuit late last year to block the Trump Administration from issuing permits for seismic testing in the Atlantic.

Below is the letter from the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce to Secretary Bernhardt:

April 26, 2019

Mr. David Bernhardt
Secretary of the Interior
U.S. Department of Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

Dear Secretary Bernhardt,

A recent newspaper report indicates that the Department of Interior is delaying indefinitely the release of a proposed new five-year plan for offshore oil leases. The recent court ruling on Arctic drilling is officially cited as the reason for this action. Another news outlet indicates that the decision is also based on opposition from influential coastal Republican officeholders.

Whatever the reasons are for this decision to delay, we applaud the outcome.

However, with this delay of an indeterminant amount of time for a new five-year plan should also come an equal delay in approving permits for seismic exploration for oil in the Atlantic.

It only stands to reason that if there is confusion as to what a draft five-year plan will include when it is released, then we should not be exploring for oil deposits in offshore areas that might not be in that plan. The highly destructive seismic technology employed in parts of or all the Atlantic in speculation that those areas might be in a five-year plan cannot be justified.

I would point out that several of the reasons for the Obama Administrations denial of these same seismic permits related to the absence of the Atlantic in a five-year plan. Those reasons were:

1. The Atlantic Program Area is not offered for leasing considerations for the next five years.
2. There is still the possibility that seismic survey information would not be used if the Atlantic is not offered for future oil and gas leasing.
3. Any data from seismic surveys may still become outdated if leasing is far in the future.

I would argue that these reasons are still applicable today given the present decision for an open-ended delay in a new five-year plan possibly until after the 2020 elections.

Therefore, we are requesting that the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management suspend all activities related to seismic testing permits and that this decision be made public.

Businesses and organizations on both sides of this issue, the general public and the U.S. District Court in Charleston deserve transparency on this matter.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Frank Knapp Jr.
President & CEO

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The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce is a statewide advocacy organization founded in 2000. With over 10,000 small business and entrepreneur supporters, it has successfully worked to make South Carolina more small business friendly in areas such as healthcare, taxation, regulation, worker training, energy/conservation, workers’ compensation and economic development.

Contact: Frank Knapp, President/CEO, 803-252-5733, 803-600-6874 (c),
fknapp@scsbc.org