March 20, 2019

Whitehouse Supports Bill to Ban Seismic Testing in Atlantic

Risky, disruptive testing has been approved by Trump administration to lay groundwork for offshore drilling

Washington, DC – U.S. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has joined Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and other East Coast senators to reintroduce 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 – a disruptive method of blasting compressed air toward the ocean floor in search of oil and gas – in the North Atlantic, Mid Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Straits of Florida.

“Laying the groundwork for offshore drilling in the Atlantic would open the door to serious threats to our economy and way of life in Rhode Island.  Even the seismic testing itself harms marine life and ocean ecosystems.  There is no way it’s worth taking on those risks to benefit fossil fuel polluters,” said Whitehouse, one of the Senate’s leading champions for the environment.

Whitehouse authored the bipartisan New England Coastal Protection Act, which would bar offshore drilling along the New England coast.  Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the bill in the House.

In November, the Trump administration authorized seismic testing in the waters from New Jersey to Florida.  Offshore drilling anywhere along the Eastern Seaboard would threaten New England’s coastal economy.  The administration is widely expected to release a new five-year offshore leasing plan soon, which is likely to open additional offshore areas for oil and gas exploration.

The Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection Act is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). 

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