The Obama administration is opening up the Eastern Seaboard, from Delaware to Florida, for oil exploration. The move comes two days after ValueWalk reported on Wall Street research that indicated oil supply would likely increase in the US as a result of looser government standards.
OEA grants extreme measures for oil exploration
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management disclosed its final approval for use of sonic cannons, shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles, with the goal to reveal energy deposits deep beneath the ocean floor.
Energy concerns are preparing to procure drilling leases in 2018 when a moratorium expires. The OEA claims it discovered a method use the sonic blasts while minimizing deaths and injuries of marine life, although it acknowledges thousands of sea creatures will be harmed. The OEA’s environmental impact study predicted over 138,000 sea creatures could be harmed, including nine of the 500 north Atlantic right whales remaining in the world.
This didn’t sit well with environmental activists.
Oil exploration pose a significant threat to endangered species
The OEA received 120,000 comments and held hearings and spent years developing the rules. The most significant concern, according to an AP report, is endangered species like whales, which give birth off the shores of northern Florida and southern Georgia before migrating north each year. Since whales are so scarce, any impact from this intense noise pollution on feeding or communications could have long-term effects,
“No one has been allowed to test anything like this on right whales,” Scott Kraus, a whale expert at the John H. Prescott Marine Laboratory in Boston, was quoted as saying. “(The Obama administration) has authorized a giant experiment on right whales that this country would never allow researchers to do.”
Opposition to oil development has been abundant along the coast, but it might not matter, even if local laws are passed. Although some states have passed drilling bans, the area being studied is far enough offshore to land federal waters, well beyond the reach of state jurisdiction. Nonetheless, over 16 communities from Florida to New Jersey have passed resolutions opposing or raising concerns.
“Florida has already felt the devastating effects of an uncontrolled oil release with the Deepwater Horizon event of which cleanup efforts are still on-going,” John Morris, a county commissioner whose constituency includes St. Augustine Beach, was quoted as saying. “Any oil spill, large or small, off the coast of St. Johns County, would greatly affect the county’s economy.”