Date: December 5, 2018
From: South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce
Subject: Seismic Testing Permits Must Be Denied
Contact: Frank Knapp Jr., President/CEO, 803-252-5733 (w), 803-600-6874 (c),
On January 6, 2016, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) denied permits to companies wanting to explore for oil in the Atlantic using the old, destructive technology called seismic testing. This technology requires vessels to pull an array of airguns that fire simultaneously every 10 seconds at the sea floor producing the loudest noise in the ocean in hopes of identifying potential pockets of oil.
Today, BOEM is reconsidering whether to reverse that 2016 decision. The Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs) issued recently by the National Marine Fisheries Service ostensibly instruct seismic companies how to minimize the harm the airgun blasts cause to marine mammals. (Fish and invertebrates, they don’t care about). With these IHAs in hand, BOEM can move forward with approving seismic permits at any time.
However, the reasons BOEM gave in 2016 for denying the permits are still true today.
-The Atlantic Program Area is not offered for leasing considerations for the next five years in the existing Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (OCSOGLP). (Only a new five year offshore leasing plan can change this. Such a plan will not be approved until possibly some time in 2019.)
-The potential risk to marine life from seismic surveys is not appropriate given that the Mid and South Atlantic is not included in the existing OCSOGLP.
-There is the possibility that seismic survey information would not be used if the Atlantic is not offered for future oil and gas leasing.
-Any data from seismic surveys may become outdated if leasing is far in the future.
-The development of lower impact survey technology is more likely to be available before future geophysical and geological information would be needed if the Atlantic Program Area should be included in a future five-year plan.
If the decision by BOEM is to be one based on facts, science and logic; it must use the same reasons from 2016 to deny the seismic permits today.