Healthy Oceans Blog

Ranking Member Grijalva: Opening East Coast to Oil Company Seismic Testing “Ironic a Few Days After a Huge Climate Report”

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who will seek to chair the Natural Resources Committee in the next Congress, said today that the newly announced National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) approval of five Incidental Harassment Authorization permits to allow seismic testing in federally owned Atlantic waters is an alarming sign of administration indifference to the fate of coastal communities and marine life, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale, which inhabits the area likely to see extensive testing as soon as next year.

Seismic testing, which is disruptive to commercial fisheries, is opposed by impacted communities up and down the East Coast. More than 220 municipalities have passed formal resolutions opposing oil and gas exploration or drilling in the Atlantic Ocean or Eastern Gulf of Mexico, including local chambers of commerce, tourism and restaurant associations, commercial and recreational fishing associations, and the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils.

The announcement comes shortly after the release of a congressionally mandated report on the contributions of human behavior to climate change and its impacts on our health and economy. The alarming findings – which President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have dismissed out of hand – make it clear that increased reliance on fossil fuels increases our risk of catastrophic health and economic outcomes.

“It’s awfully ironic to see this a few days after the release of a report on why we need to stop drilling for fossil fuels at breakneck speed,” Grijalva said today. “There is nothing this administration won’t do for the fossil fuel industry, including destroying local economies and ruining endangered species habitats. The Natural Resources Committee is going to provide serious checks and balances on this behavior from day one in the next Congress.”

There are only about 400 North Atlantic right whales left in the world, and seismic testing in sensitive habitat areas is known to pose a serious health risk to marine mammals.

The Interior Department is expected to release a new five-year plan for offshore drilling in the near future. Nearly every coastal-state governor opposes more drilling, with many saying an oil spill would devastate local tourism and fishing economies.

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