Facts are stubborn things, and facts should absolutely be used in discussing the merits of seismic testing on the Atlantic coast. Unfortunately, there seems to be more misinformation and baseless claims rather than actual scientific analysis when it comes to the topic of seismic surveying in particular. Hopefully, fact-based arguments will prevail over the fear mongering tactics used by those who will blindly oppose any action towards domestic energy production.
Seismic testing is the only way to determine what lies below the ocean floor, and it is a step we must take to gather the facts and inventory our domestic natural gas and oil resources in the Atlantic. The simple truth is this: seismic testing has been safely and successfully utilized by academics at universities, the renewable energy industry, and various other scientists for nearly a century. And while this has been going on for decades, we can do it safer and better now than ever before with dramatic technological and data processing advances.
There is an unfortunate reason that the decades old concept of seismic surveying may seem like it’s all of a sudden new and getting a lot of attention. And that is because for the first time in a long time, these seismic permits have been granted to the offshore natural gas and oil industry. Since 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service has issued over 15 permits to renewable energy projects, government agencies, and academic institutions, with little to no public uproar at all.. This is a standard and long-existing method of surveying frequently employed by researchers and the government, and a method that is frankly critical for understanding our domestic energy resources for long term growth planning and for national security.
It is often said that we know more about the surface of the moon than we know about our ocean floor. In this time of geopolitical uncertainty, it is reckless to abandon an opportunity to gain an understanding of our domestic resources. Seismic testing has not occurred in the Atlantic in thirty years. New data, measured with modern and more sophisticated instruments, can now give us a clear picture of what lies below. Opposing seismic surveying of the Outer Continental Shelf now could set a dangerous precedent for scientific discovery and advancement in the future.
Representatives from the Marine Mammal Protection Project have claimed that the findings of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management under the Obama administration were somehow misrepresented by quoting the report. The lengthy report concluded that the impacts of a seismic survey would be “negligible” – the lowest rating of impact possible. The Obama administration went on to issue dozens of seismic survey permits.
Florida should move past the smoke and mirrors and continue its progress toward a safe and reliable energy future by expanding offshore energy exploration and production. The natural gas and oil industry could bring job opportunities and investments that would benefit the state as a whole, in addition to boosting national security and allowing us to plan for a responsible and secure energy future. Natural gas and oil, which makes up more than 65 percent of our energy, is a crucial aspect of America’s energy and economic reality and future. Geologic seismic surveying is a safe and responsible first step in the right direction.
David Mica is the executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council. This piece originally ran in the South Florida Sun Sentinel.