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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Carolina Beach Adopts Resolution Opposing Seismic Air Gun Testing

Carolina Beach Adopts Resolution Opposing Seismic Air Gun Testing

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council unanimously adopted a resolution at their February 28th, meeting opposing seismic air gun testing for off shore oil and natural gas exploration.
During the Council's February 11th, meeting Ethan Crouch - chair for the Cape Fear Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation - asked the Council to consider opposing the use of seismic air guns in the Atlantic Ocean due to impacts on marine life. According to Oceana.org, "Seismic air guns are used to find oil and gas deep underneath the ocean floor. Air guns are so loud that they disturb, injure or kill marine life, harm commercial fisheries, and disrupt coastal economies. These dynamite-like blasts—which are repeated every ten seconds, 24 hours a day, for days and weeks at a time—are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine. Seismic airgun testing currently being proposed in the Atlantic will injure 138,500 whales and dolphins and disturb millions more, according to government estimates."
The sound waves that return to the vessel towing monitoring equipment are used to determine if oil or natural gas are located beneath the ocean floor.
A crowd of approximately 300 people rallied at Kure Beach Town Hall on January 27th, to voice their opposition to Mayor Dean Lambeth signing a letter in December 2013 supporting seismic airgun testing for off shore
oil and natural gas exploration. The entire Carolina Beach Town Council attended that meeting sitting in the audience hearing from residents both in favor and opposition.
The resolution adopted by the Council stated, "A resolution of the Town Council of the Town of Carolina Beach North Carolina expressing opposition to seismic testing as proposed in BOEM PEIS OPT A and OPT B."
The resolution stated:
WHEREAS, seismic testing as proposed in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement alternative A and alternative B has the potential to harm marine life; and
WHEREAS, seismic testing as proposed in BOEM Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement alternative A and alternative B has the potential to impact recreational and commercial fishing; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Carolina Beach is a municipality in New Hanover County where a major economic force is tourism related to the coastal environment; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Carolina Beach endeavors to be a good steward of the coastal environment and its resources; and
WHEREAS, the full impacts of seismic testing as proposed in BOEM Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement alternative A and alternative B are not yet fully understood by scientists, the Oil & Gas industry, or BOEM, and
WHEREAS, the Town of Carolina Beach believes that more research should be done to fully understand all impacts of seismic testing and options for mitigation those impacts; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Carolina Beach does not believe seismic testing as currently proposed in alternative A or alternative B of BOEM’s Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement is the safest way to map oil & gas deposits in the mid-atlantic region.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Town Council of the Town of Carolina Beach, North Carolina, is opposed to seismic testing as proposed in alternative A or alternative B of BOEM’s Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement until such time as all testing options are evaluated and proper assurances for the protection of marine life are established.
This Resolution adopted the 28th day of February 2014.
The resolution came one day after the federal government ruled on the issue.
According to Dustin Cranor - Communications Director, U.S. Campaigns for OCEANA - the Federal government had ruled the day before the Council meeting to permit seismic testing in the Atlantic from Delaware to Florida.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect
the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe.
Cranor explained Thursday February 27th, "Today, the United States government released a final proposal to allow the use of controversial seismic airguns to look for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida. According to the Department of the Interior (DOI), these dynamite-like blasts are expected to injure and possibly kill large numbers of dolphins and whales along the
East Coast and disturb the necessary activities of millions more. One species of particular concern is the North Atlantic right whale, the rarest large whale species, of which there are only approximately 500 left worldwide."
“By failing to consider relevant science, the Obama administration’s decision could be a death sentence for many marine mammals, and needlessly turning the Atlantic Ocean into a blast zone,” said Jacqueline Savitz, Vice President for U.S. Oceans at Oceana. “If seismic airguns are allowed in the Atlantic, it will jeopardize wildlife as well as commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism and coastal recreation—putting more than 730,000 jobs in the blast zone at risk. In its rush to finalize this proposal, the Obama administration is failing to consider
the cumulative impacts that these repeated dynamite-like blasts will have on vital behaviors like mating, feeding, breathing, communicating and navigating."
Cranor explained, "Today’s decision comes one week after more than 100 scientists called on President Obama and his administration to wait on new acoustic guidelines for marine mammals, which are currently in development by the National Marine Fisheries Service. These guidelines are 15 years in the making and aim to provide a better understanding of how marine mammals are impacted by varying levels of manmade sound as well as demonstrate the measures that are needed to protect them. Just yesterday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and eight additional U.S.
Senators sent a letter to DOI Secretary Sally Jewell urging her to hold off on issuing this administrative decision until all of the best available science, including these new acoustic guidelines, can be incorporated."
He explained, "With offshore drilling in the Atlantic more than four years away, there is absolutely no justification for failing to include the best available science in this decision,” said Savitz. “Seismic airguns create one of the loudest manmade sounds in the ocean, and we should be doing everything we can to protect marine life from their loud blasts. These devices are loud enough to kill small animals like fish eggs and larvae at close ranges and
can disrupt the behavior of large animals like whales and dolphins from up to 100 miles away. It’s as if the Obama administration has learned nothing from the destruction that similar testing has caused off the coasts of Namibia, Australia and Madagascar.”
In comments to DOI, Oceana has argued that the federal government has not developed adequate closure areas to protect the migratory corridor and nursery of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale and has failed to fully consider safer alternative technologies such as marine vibroseis, which is quieter that seismic airguns and has less of an impact on marine mammals.