Protecting the Atlantic Coast from dangerous offshore drilling

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is considering opening a large swath of the Atlantic Ocean –  from Virginia to Georgia – to oil and gas companies hoping to drill in the Atlantic Ocean. More than nine of these companies have applied to use seismic airgun blasting.

Proposed area for seismic blasting

Proposed area for seismic blasting. Map: BOEM

Seismic airguns, towed behind ships, shoot loud blasts of compressed air through the water and miles into the seabed, which reflect back information about buried oil and gas deposits. These blasts are so loud they cause immense trauma to marine life – temporary and permanent hearing loss, abandonment of habitat, disruption of mating and feeding, and even beach strandings and death – as well as harm commercial fisheries, and disrupt coastal economies.

According to Oceana, the government’s plan would expose the East Coast to industrial offshore drilling for the first time ever, leading to a coast scattered with oil and gas rigs, the industrialization of coastal communities and the looming threat of a Deepwater Horizon-like disaster. Oceana’s own analysis found that offshore wind would create twice the number of jobs and generate twice the amount of energy as offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, without the risk of a catastrophic spill.

Oceana is encouraging local residents and their elected officials to speak up now. Already, more than 70 East Coast municipalities, including 20 in North Carolina, have formally opposed seismic airgun blasting and/or offshore drilling, and more than 90 members of Congress and 160 conservation and animal welfare organizations, have publically taken a stand against offshore oil exploration.

The Orton Foundation is proud to support Oceana in their tireless efforts to stop the expansion these devastating practices and protect the Atlantic seaboard. As a North Carolina native, protecting these waters, safeguarding marine wildlife, and ensuring the vitality of coastal communities is extremely important to me. The short-term gain of offshore drilling is not worth the extensive, long-term damage to our environment and coastal economy. I strongly encourage community leaders and elected officials to listen to the voices of the people and to take action to stop offshore drilling on the Atlantic coast. Read Oceana’s press release and let your voice be heard here.