WASHINGTON – In response to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issuing five Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs) which would advance permit applications for seismic air gun blasting off the Atlantic Coast, U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-2nd) and John Rutherford (R-FLA 4th) introduced the bipartisan Atlantic Coastal Economies Protection Act.
It would prohibit or stop seismic air gun testing in the Atlantic Ocean. Seismic air gun testing is the first step towards offshore oil and gas exploration and a direct threat to the coastal fishing and tourism economies dependent on healthy ocean ecosystems.
According to a release, Van Drew has a history of working to protect the coastal economy and environment. In 2018 during his time in the New Jersey state Legislature, he introduced and passed Senate Bill No. 258 which prohibited offshore oil or natural gas exploration, development, and production in state waters.
“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,” stated Van Drew.
“The waters off the East Coast are home to vulnerable mammal populations, military operations, tourist destinations, and a vibrant maritime economy. 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,” stated Rutherford.
Van Drew and Rutherford were joined in the effort by Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Brian Mast (R-FL), and Donna Shalala (D-FL).
The bill was also endorsed by a variety of stakeholders ranging from local chambers of commerce and fisheries organizations to conservation and environmental groups.
Endorsements: Oceana, League of Conservation Voters, Surfrider Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Environment America, Earthjustice, Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, Hands Across the Sand, American Littoral Society, Ocean Conservation Research, Recreational Fishing Alliance, American Sportfishing Association, International Game Fish Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy.