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NE Florida Republican Congressman Helping Lead Bipartisan Effort Against Atlantic Seismic Testing

Northeast Florida Republican Congressman John Rutherford is helping lead a bipartisan effort against seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic Ocean, which could lead to drilling for oil and gas.

Rutherford said the blasting could hurt coastal businesses relying on healthy oceans.

Seismic testing is a way of finding oil and natural gas beneath the ocean floor with loud blasts of air. If the oil is there, drilling to retrieve it is the next step.

The Trump administration is reviewing applications by five energy companies who want to explore oil in the Atlantic. But Rutherford and more than 100 other members of Congress signed a letter sent to the secretary of interior against the blasting.

Rutherford said in an email, airgun testing poses a threat to coastal economies, like North Florida fisheries.

“While future offshore drilling activities in the Atlantic would put our communities at risk down the road, seismic testing threatens our fragile coastal economies today,” he said. “Our coastal economy should not be put at undue risk at a time when our booming oil and gas production is more than enough to meet our current energy needs.”

Environmental group Oceana, which opposes the testing, is applauding the letter. The group argues seismic testing could displace fish stocks, decrease catch rates, and disturb whale breeding.

Several Florida coastal municipalities have passed resolutions against Atlantic Ocean seismic testing, but Jacksonville’s did not when it came before City Council in 2015.   

Photo: "Jacksonville Beach" used under Creative Commons.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at@lindskilbride

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