Local reaction after surveyors get closer to perform seismic air testing

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) – The practice of seismic air testing that helps companies find oil and gas in open water could begin along coastlines like North Carolina’s.This change has many from national to local levels fired up.

The approval places 5 companies closer to gain permits to test in Atlantic waters. For many, the move seems like a clear act of agencies like NOAA to not listen to the hundreds of local governments that have opposed the practice.

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“It’s infuriating because they are clearly not listening to us,” said Pete Key President of Brunswick Environmental Action Team (BEAT).

In April 2017, President Trump reopened the chance for surveys and testing in Atlantic waters. That led us to now, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service has provided the green-light for five companies to move forward with the application process.

North Carolina’s Petroleum Council (NCPC) applauding the move.



“The U.S. needs to know what energy resources exist off of our shores,” said the Council’s Executive Director David McGowan III. “The oil and natural gas industry remains committed to improving the scientific understanding of the impacts of our operations on marine life, while responsibly producing oil and gas resources to meet our nation’s energy needs.”

Key says there is nothing responsibly safe about the method.

“For every ten seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for possibly months on end they could be towing these buoys that emit a sound that is Earth-shatteringly deafening,” said Key. “The disruption that it’s going to have on marine life underneath the, it doesn’t take a scientist to figure that out.”

NCPC cites the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management saying the there is no proof the testing harms marine life.

“There has been no demonstration of population level effects to marine life from seismic or other geophysical survey activity, individually or cumulatively,” said McGowan.

Key combats that finding and the regulations that require spotter be placed on these surveys to make sure marine life is not in the area when the seismic airwaves are sent through the water.

“Say it’s night now, well you’re not going to be able to see a whale or see a dolphin and we’re going to be criss-crossing these patterns over the migratory paths of the Wright whale and the Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin,” said Key.

The BOEM is now the lone agency between these geo-surveying companies from beginning to conduct tests and data in the Atlantic. Communities like New Hanover County, echo their opposition to the practice.

“The worst thing that could happen here is that we have offshore drilling and a spill happen like what happened in the Gulf,” said county commission chairman Jonathan Barfield.