Trump Admin Approves Seismic Testing for Atlantic Oil and Gas Exploration

A general view of the Centenario deep-water oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Veracruz, Mexico January 17, 2014. Picture taken January 17, 2014. REUTERS/Henry Romero - RC1906FA7D60

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In news sure to make fossil fuel enemies’ head spin, the Trump administration has given the go ahead to seismic testing off the Atlantic coast to survey the seabed for oil and gas resources, after former President Obama blocked the testing for years.

“The surveys are part of President Donald Trump’s bid to expand offshore drilling in the Atlantic. The plan has drawn opposition from East Coast lawmakers and governors, who say it could hurt commercial fishing and tourism.

Seismic surveys have not been conducted in the region for at least 30 years.

Seismic air guns fire intense blasts of compressed air into the seabed every 10 to 12 seconds, for weeks or months at a time. The blasts reflect back information about buried oil and gas deposits, as well as potential seafloor hazards and sand and gravel resources for beach restoration.”

The benefits of oil and gas extraction off the coast of North Carolina and other Atlantic states are many, while the risks are often overblown by environmentalists and those opposed to fossil fuels int heir entirety.

While risks to marine mammals and fish are pointed to by the opposition as reason not to conduct the testing, the NOAA explains just hoe negligible these risks are.

NOAA experts said their decision allowed for geographical limits on where airgun blasting could take place, would offer protections for endangered right whales, and did not explicitly allow for the killing of any marine mammals.

“[…]Benjamin Laws, a biologist at the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources, acknowledged that seismic blasting could have “effects” on marine life, he said during a conference call with reporters: “Our analysis shows we shouldn’t expect there would be impacts greater than negligible on annual rates of recruitment or survival for these populations.”

Jolie Harrison, chief of the Permits and Conservation Division in the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources, added: “We really went to great lengths here to make sure that we understood what the effects are.””

Further, the commercial fisherman in North Carolina, far from panicking about the risks to their livelihoods, support such exploration of the Old North State’s natural resources.

Consistent with past positions on offshore drilling, the North Carolina Fisheries Association once again agreed they have no opposition to moving forward with exploration for oil and gas offshore of North Carolina. At their regular monthly meeting in February 2018, the Board had no opposition to “keeping the options open” regarding the drilling issue.

We believe it would be hypocritical of us to oppose any efforts to at least find what’s out there, whether it be oil or natural gas or both”, said NCFA’s Chairman, Brent Fulcher. “We use thousands upon thousands of gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline in our efforts to bring seafood to the American consumer.

Glenn Skinner, the organization’s Executive Director, said eastern North Carolina needs jobs, and while tourism, commercial and recreational fishing are important, the possibility of an oil spill in the distant future pales in comparison to the immediate harm to commercial fishing by the actions of the Marine Fisheries Commission, made even worse by Governor Cooper’s appointments.

On the other side of the negligible risks are the multitude of benefits for North Carolinians from developing oil and gas resources. As described here by Captain McCormick of the NC Energy Forum:

“A January 2018 study by Calash explored the potential impact exploration could have on the state of North Carolina alone. It estimated that by 2040, contributions from the industry to the state’s economy could be up to $3.5 billion annually. In addition, potential from revenue sharing, royalties, bonuses and rents were estimated at up to $500 million a year or $2.8 million cumulatively. When it comes to workforce expansion, it projected up to 56,000 jobs.

Simply put, this has the potential to be a game changer. It’s important to note, as well, that we are very likely underestimating how much energy is available in these offshore areas. The most recent seismic surveys, which are used to estimate how much natural gas and oil are below the surface, are from the 1980s. Just like tape decks and Members Only jackets, the technology used to create these surveys has gone out of style.”

So, while the Leftists will crow about the testing and Cooper will continue to oppose exploration (at the expense of future jobs and prosperity in Eastern NC), luckily the process for developing the resources needed to fuel our quality of life will move forward now that we have President Donald Trump in the White House.

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