Review of Atlantic energy draws mixed reactions

Feb. 28, 2014 at 7:57 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Exploring U.S. waters in the Atlantic Ocean will enhance an already booming energy sector, the oil industry says, though the environmental community cried foul.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released its final environmental impact statement for proposed seismic surveys in U.S. waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The BOEM said the review establishes ways to minimize the impacts to marine life while "setting a path forward for survey activities that will update nearly four-decade-old data on offshore energy resources in the region."

Erik Milito, director of upstream operations at the American Petroleum Institute, said the BOEM measure is a critical step in ensuring energy security for the United States.

"To continue America's energy renaissance in the future, we must explore and plan for the future now," he said in a statement Thursday.

Athan Manuel, an advocacy director at the Sierra Club, said opening the door to more fossil fuel exploration was the wrong decision to make.

"Choosing clean energy will benefit coastal communities already dealing with the rising seas and severe storms brought by climate disruption," he said in a statement.

The U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said in a five-year lease plan outlined in 2011 the reserve potential in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf is not well understood and surveys of these areas are incomplete and outdated.

The National Ocean Industries Association, an industry group lobbying for more offshore work, said in a December report about 1.34 million barrels of oil equivalent per day could be produced from the Atlantic basin by 2035.

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