An environmental impact statement released Thursday from the federal government could mount to a “death sentence” for marine mammals as the pursuit for oil and gas deposits may turn a 300,000 square mile area in the Atlantic Ocean into a “blast zone,” a conservation group warns.
In its final environmental impact review, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management stated that it had “establishe[d] multiple mitigation measures designed to minimize the impacts to marine life” from seismic testing, which can include the use of air guns blasts, in a stretch of the Atlantic that extends from Delaware to Florida.
The area is home to 39 marine mammals, and the Bureau expects 34 of them to be impacted, including six endangered species of whales. One of those is the North Atlantic Right Whale, whose total population may be only 450.
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The review states:
International ocean conservation group Oceana describes the sound from these air gun blasts as being “100,000 times more intense than what one would experience if standing near a jet engine.”
The group slammed BOEM’s “preferred alternative,” which allows for the use of these seismic airguns, as a failure to protect marine life as well as hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“By failing to consider relevant science, the Obama administration’s decision could be a death sentence for many marine mammals, needlessly turning the Atlantic Ocean into a blast zone,” stated Jacqueline Savitz, Vice President for U.S. Oceans at Oceana. “If seismic airguns are allowed in the Atlantic, it will jeopardize wildlife as well as commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism and coastal recreation—putting more than 730,000 jobs in the blast zone at risk.”
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