WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) and John Rutherford (R–FL) have introduced the bipartisan legislation to prohibit seismic air gun testing in the Atlantic Ocean.
Atlantic Coastal Economies Protection Act was introduced in response to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issuing five Incidental Harassment Authorizations, which would advance permit applications for seismic air gun blasting off the Atlantic Coast, Van Drew said in a release.
Seismic air gun testing is the first step towards offshore oil and gas exploration and a direct threat to the coastal fishing and tourism economies dependent on healthy ocean ecosystems, he said.
In 2018 during his time in the New Jersey Legislature, Van Drew introduced and passed Senate Bill No. 258, which prohibited offshore oil or natural gas exploration, development, and production in state waters.
“Our local economy is dependent on fishing, tourism and wildlife watching – the bottom line is offshore oil and gas drilling isn’t worth the risk,” Van Drew said.
“The waters off the East Coast are home to vulnerable mammal populations, military operations, tourist destinations, and a vibrant maritime economy. Allowing seismic testing in the Atlantic is unnecessary and potentially hazardous to the coastal communities that rely on a healthy ecosystem. The U.S. should not jeopardize our coastal economy by expanding seismic testing and offshore drilling, particularly when our energy needs continue to be met,” Rutherford said.
Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Brian Mast (R-FL), and Donna Shalala (D-FL) joined the legislation. The bill was also endorsed by a variety of stakeholders ranging from local chambers of commerce and fisheries organizations to conservation and environmental groups, Van Drew said.