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ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, FL (AP) — A decision by the Obama administration is going to be welcomed by the oil industry, but not by environmentalists.

The administration is reopening the Eastern Seaboard to offshore oil and gas exploration. It gave final approval today to the use of sonic cannons that can find energy deposits deep beneath the ocean floor.

It will mean plenty of new jobs — but environmentalists are worried about the short-term and long-term impacts.

Scientists say the sonic cannons endanger marine life. They say whales and dolphins rely on their hearing to feed and communicate with family groups, and that even fish and crabs navigate and communicate by sound.

And a spokeswoman for the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League asks, “Do we really want to see these offshore rigs set up?”

But the agency that gave the approval today, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, says it’s a “balanced approach” that will allow the exploration of offshore resources while protecting the environment.

The sonic cannons are already in use in the western Gulf of Mexico and other offshore oil operations around the world.


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