Last month, a coalition of conservation groups moved to intervene in a lawsuit over seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean.
Used to locate and quantify potential oil and gas deposits, seismic testing involves firing blasts of air from large air guns toward the ocean floor for days or weeks at a time. Seismic blasts have been known to travel more than a thousand miles through the ocean, disorienting, hurting, deafening, or even killing nearby marine life. The Department of the Interior estimates that more than 130,000 marine mammals, including the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale, would be injured by seismic testing along the East Coast. Seismic blasts also drive away fish, drastically cutting commercial fishing production. Studies have shown that seismic testing could potentially harm commercial and recreational fishing—central to coastal economies—by decreasing catch rates by as much as 80 percent.
Last month, President Trump issued an executive order seeking to open the Atlantic Ocean to offshore drilling.
More than 120 cities along the Atlantic coast have expressed their opposition to offshore drilling. “Coastal communities like Charleston and Beaufort have spoken out for years against seismic testing for oil and gas and drilling because they understand the overwhelming scientific evidence of the risks to marine mammals like the endangered North Atlantic right whale,” says Eddy Moore, energy and climate director at the Coastal Conservation League. “We have already heard from thousands of residents who are prepared to join us in opposing this latest threat to the East Coast’s economic and natural well-being.”