WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) March 14 reintroduced the Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection Act, a bill that prohibits oil, gas, and methane hydrate-related seismic activities in the Atlantic Ocean.

The bill bans the use of seismic airgun blasting in the search of oil and gas in the North Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic and Straits of Florida.

“At a time when we should be focused on swiftly transitioning to a clean energy future, we should not be creating a foundation for further fossil fuel extraction that puts our economy and environment at grave risk,” Booker said in a release. “Seismic airgun blasts not only harm our diverse marine life, but also threaten New Jersey’s coastal communities and fishing industry, which provides thousands of jobs for hardworking families. This bill prevents fossil fuel related seismic testing and makes clear that the Atlantic is off-limits to any type of offshore oil exploration.”

“Seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean is bad for New Jersey and bad for our environment and ocean life,” Menendez said. “Not only could it harm our marine mammals and the vital ecosystems that our shore communities depend upon, but it also paves the way for oil drilling in the Atlantic.”

The last thing the region needs after recovering from Superstorm Sandy is to deal with manmade disasters, such as an oil spill, Menendez said.

“We must protect the tourism and fishing industries, which are vital to New Jersey’s economy.”

Booker and Menendez have repeatedly spoken out against oil exploration in the Atlantic Ocean and other extraction efforts harmful to coastal communities in New Jersey and across the country. The pair successfully lobbied the Obama Administration to ban offshore drilling in deep water canyons off the New Jersey coast and their amendment to block seismic testing for methane hydrate in the Atlantic passed the Senate in early 2016, although the House refused to take up the bill.

Booker has also urged the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to deny seismic survey applications for oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic.

The bill is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Ed Markey (D-MA).

Categories: Downbeach

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.