Washington– U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-NJ), Bill Nelson, (D-Fla.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the “Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection Act’’ a bill to ban oil, gas and methane hydrate-related seismic activities in the Atlantic Ocean. The bill will prohibit the use of seismic airgun blasting -- a disruptive and potentially economically damaging method of surveying offshore oil and gas reserves -- in the North Atlantic, Mid Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Straits of Florida.
“Offshore fossil fuel exploration of any kind in the Atlantic poses a direct and serious threat to New Jersey’s economy and environment. My colleagues and I will do everything in our power to protect our coastal communities and those who work in our fishing industry from the potentially disastrous effects of seismic blasting,” said Senator Booker. “Our bill makes it clear that when it comes to offshore oil exploration of any kind, the Atlantic and our coasts are off limits.”
“We are introducing this commonsense legislation because we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our environment, and allowing big oil to use seismic blasting methods that are incredibly disruptive to marine life is a total abdication of that responsibility,” said Senator Menendez. “New Jersey’s fishing industry supports tens of thousands of jobs, and the state is home to one of the largest saltwater recreational fishing industries in the nation. I will continue to fight for New Jersey’s clean coastal waters and rich ecosystems, our small businesses and fishermen who have built and sustained a thriving shore economy against all odds in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and for all New Jerseyans who know the value of having a clean energy future.”
Booker has been an outspoken advocated for a ban on seismic airgun blasting and other harmful extraction efforts in the Atlantic. In August 2015, Booker sent a letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) urging a denial of four seismic survey applications for oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic Ocean. Last month, Booker spoke out against President Trump’s executive order on expediting off-shore drilling, pledging to fight the Administration’s efforts to erode coastal protections from off-shore drilling.
In December 2016, after years of pressure from Booker, Menendez and New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, the Obama administration announced a permanent ban of offshore drilling in deep water canyons from Virginia to New England, including off of the New Jersey coast.