Move to Open US Atlantic Coast to Oil Drilling Meets Increased Opposition

A rare and endangered blue whale, one of at least four feeding 11 miles off Long Beach Harbor in the Catalina Channel, spouts near offshore oil rigs after a long dive July 16, 2008 near Long Beach, California. (Photo: David McNew / Getty Images News)A rare and endangered blue whale spouts near offshore oil rigs after a long dive near Long Beach, California. Now that the Trump administration is opening up Atlantic waters to the industry, the endangered North Atlantic right whale may soon be swimming next to oil rigs as well. (Photo: David McNew / Getty Images News)

The Trump Administration has taken steps to open up the United States’ Atlantic waters to offshore oil exploration and drilling, sparking fierce resistance up and down the coast.

For instance, Timothy O’Brien, a self-described “angler and sportsman” who is president of Tycoon Tackle, Inc. and serves on the Ecosystem and Ocean Planning Advisory Panel of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, wrote in an op-ed in June that “My business and my customers’ businesses will be hit hard if the exploration and drilling for oil off the Atlantic Coast goes forward. But it is not just angling that is at risk, the entire coastal economy and way of life is under threat.”

O’Brien’s most immediate concern is that, before any drilling can begin, surveys of the Atlantic coastal region would first be performed by seismic airgun blasting. Continually blasting intense bursts of noise into the water every 10 to 12 seconds in order to determine what resources might lie beneath the ocean floor, seismic airguns are so loud they can be heard underwater as far as 2,500 miles away — and the blasting can go on for weeks or even months straight.

“Studies have shown that this type of disturbance can decrease catch rates of commercial fish species by an average of 50 percent over thousands of square miles,” O’Brien notes. “Further, these blasts are known to harm marine mammals and other species that are vital to a healthy ecosystem.”

O’Brien is far from alone in his opposition to the Trump Administration’s plans to open the Atlantic coast to exploitation by oil and gas companies. According to the NGO Oceana, “an alliance representing over 41,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing…

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