July 6 (UPI) -- A U.S. decision to extend the comment period for work tied to oil and gas development in the Atlantic was a response to public outrage, Greenpeace said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published a notice in the Federal Register stating that the public comment period for "five proposed incidental harassment authorizations" for seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean were extended by 15 days to July 21.
The notice said the extension was granted because of multiple requests.
Mary Sweeters, a U.S. campaigner for Greenpeace, said seismic surveys used to get a better understanding of the oil and gas reserve potential threaten the marine ecosystem and the economies of Atlantic coastal states, many of which rely on tourism and fishing for revenue.
"The move by the Trump administration to extend the comment period for Atlantic Coast seismic testing is the direct result of widespread outcry from people along the East Coast and from bipartisan political leaders," she said in an emailed statement.
The U.S. Interior Department in May said it would reassess permits denied to a handful of companies looking to conduct seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean, a step usually seen as a precursor to oil and gas drilling. A handful of Democratic senators this year introduced legislation aimed at prohibiting the permits.
President Donald Trump's administration published the draft for public comment in the federal registry in early June. The National Ocean Industries Association, an industry trade group, estimates the Atlantic holds about 4.7 billion barrels of oil and 37.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, though those estimates are based on seismic surveys from more than 30 years ago.
From the industry's point of view, seismic surveys are safe.