Safety of seismic surveys in Atlantic questioned

Jan. 10, 2014 at 8:23 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- A top member of a U.S. House committee on natural resources said he was worried about the ecological impact of potential energy surveys of the Atlantic Ocean.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, was joined by fellow Democrats from states bordering the Atlantic in expressing their concerns to the Department of Interior and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

DeFazio and his counterparts said they were concerned about how marine mammals would be impacted by potential seismic surveys used to get a better understanding of the reserve potential offshore.

"Recent reports have shown that these activities can have significant impacts on marine mammals, fish, and their habitats, yet it is not at all clear that these impacts are being given serious consideration when decisions about offshore resource development are being made," they said in a joint statement Thursday.

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potential in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf is not well understood and surveys of these areas are incomplete and outdated.

Supporters of a more aggressive energy policy have called for greater access to potential Atlantic reserve basins. 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 and most of that would be in the form of natural gas.

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