TRENTON, N.J. (CBS)– Groups for and against oil exploration off the New Jersey and Delaware shores are weighing in on the Trump Administration’s plan to allow more seismic surveying.
Last month the Administration undid former President Obama’s ban on testing for oil and natural gas in the Atlantic.
And this week a federal agency sought approval for 5 companies to begin exploring below the sea floor from the Delaware Bay to Florida.
“For over 45 years the people of New Jersey have fought offshore drilling,” says Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club.
Environmental groups say under-water air blasts used in seismic testing can disturb whales and dolphins from feeding and migrating.
In fact, the testing request says the National Marine Fisheries Service “is requesting comments on its proposal to issue incidental harassment authorizations to incidentally take marine mammals during the specified activities.”
If oil and gas are found off the coast experts say rigs would likely be a hundred or more miles from beaches.
An oil spill could certainly have a catastrophic impact on marine life and shore tourism.
“We’re playing Russian Roulette with our beaches and our water and it doesn’t make any sense,” says Tittel.
New Jersey’s Petroleum Council supports seismic surveying and offshore drilling.
They say the benefits are job creation, energy reliability and independence from foreign oil.
“We believe energy resources can be explored in a safe, environmentally effective way to bring our energy and establish our jobs here in New Jersey,” Petroleum Council executive director Jim Benton.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is taking public comment through July 6.
For more information on providing comment, CLICK HERE.