Noting that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued five Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs) advancing applications for seismic air gun blasting off the Atlantic Coast, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., is pushing for legislation banning seismic testing.
Rutherford paired up with U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-NJ, to bring out the “Atlantic Coastal Economies Protection Act” which will “prohibit these permit applications for seismic air gun testing from moving forward in the Atlantic Ocean.” The First Coast Republican congressman’s office insisted “seismic air gun testing is the first step towards offshore oil and gas development and a direct threat to the coastal fishing and tourism economies dependent on healthy ocean ecosystems.”Van Drew introduced the legislation on Monday.
“The waters off the East Coast are home to vulnerable mammal populations, military operations, tourist destinations, and a vibrant maritime economy,” Rutherford said on Monday. “Allowing seismic testing in the Atlantic is unnecessary and potentially hazardous to the coastal communities that rely on a healthy ecosystem. The U.S. should not jeopardize our coastal economy by expanding seismic testing and offshore drilling, particularly when our energy needs continue to be met.”
“Our local economy is dependent on fishing, tourism and wildlife watching – the bottom line is offshore oil and gas drilling isn’t worth the risk,” said Van Drew.
The bill is generating support from both sides of the aisle including U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla. The American Sportfishing Association, the Center for Sportfishing Policy, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, the League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, Environment America, Earthjustice and several other groups have backed the proposal.
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. So far, there is no companion bill over in the Senate.