Washington– U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) today announced the passage of an amendment he authored that will block seismic testing for methane hydrate in the Atlantic Ocean. He was joined by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, who cosponsored the amendment. Methane Hydrate, a form of natural gas, is estimated to have 25 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide over a 100 year period.
Booker's Methane Hydrate Amendment passed the Senate by voice vote as an amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015.
“Offshore drilling and fossil fuel exploration of any form in the Atlantic Ocean is an economic and environmental threat to New Jersey, and I’m going to do everything I can to stop it,” said Sen. Booker. “This amendment will block seismic testing in the Atlantic for a damaging form of natural gas. Its passage is a victory for the growing number of New Jerseyans demanding that the federal government abandon efforts to drill for oil and other fossil fuels in the Atlantic.”
“It’s simple: Drilling for fossil fuels in our Atlantic Ocean is unacceptable,” said Sen. Menendez. “We should not allow methane exploration off the Jersey Shore or the East Coast, and I’m pleased this amendment is now part of the Energy Bill. This victory for the Jersey Shore – not the fossil fuel industry that’s interested in a quick buck at the expense of our environment and shore economies.”
Studies have shown that noise from seismic airgun testing can reduce catch rates of commercial fish species by as much as 40-80 percent, and it is estimated that seismic airgun testing currently being proposed in the Atlantic could injure or kill tens of thousands of whales and dolphins.
On Sunday, Booker, Menendez, and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) rallied with New Jersey public officials and about 200 local business owners and residents in Asbury Park to demand the federal government withdraw proposals that would allow oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic Ocean. The Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) has included portions of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean as an area identified for oil and gas drilling in its next 5-year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
Booker’s Methane Hydrate Amendment (3160):
The methane hydrate amendment would strike the Atlantic Ocean from the section of the Energy bill pending in the Senate that authorizes seismic testing in connection to methane hydrate. The bill would also amend the research and development authorization, as well as the corresponding appropriations provision, of the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act of 2000.
Methane hydrate is a crystal lattice-like compound, which appears similar to ice. Methane molecules, the chief constituent of natural gas, are trapped within the crystal structure of water. Methane hydrate deposits are generally found beneath the ocean floor and under Arctic permafrost and, when brought to the Earth’s surface, releases natural gas.