Rep. McEachin Leads Members of VA Congressional Delegation in Letter Opposing Seismic Airgun Blasting and Offshore Drilling

February 12, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) led a letter, signed by every Democratic member of the Virginia Congressional Delegation, expressing opposition to the five Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) permits issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last November, and requesting the Trump Administration revoke these IHAs and refrain from issuing seismic airgun survey permits off the coast of Virginia. The letter also expresses opposition to the inclusion of the Commonwealth’s offshore area in the final 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

“Virginians have too much to lose when we prioritize polluters’ profits over the health and safety of our ocean and coastal communities,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “Seismic airgun blasting can devastate marine life, including endangered species and essential fish stocks. History has shown us that offshore drilling accidents can irrevocably harm coastal communities’ economies, public health and marine life – and compromise military activities that are important to national security. The potential toll from an oil spill—in terms of damages, injuries, deaths, and other harms—is incalculable. I urge the administration to listen to Virginians, who have expressed vehement opposition to all forms of oil and gas exploration off Virginia’s coast.”

“In Virginia alone, more than 20 communities have officially voiced their opposition to seismic surveys and offshore drilling, including Virginia Beach and Norfolk – Virginia’s most populous cities. The Commonwealth has a diverse and robust economy based on sectors like tourism, recreation, aquaculture, deepwater port commerce, and Department of Defense infrastructure. Moving forward with seismic testing and offshore drilling could threaten these critical engines of Virginia’s economy, along with the valuable ecosystems along the coast and within the Chesapeake Bay. These shores, and the ecosystems and jobs they support, are simply too vital to the Commonwealth to risk,” wrote the Members of Congress. “Our constituents remain concerned with the administration’s efforts to open the Commonwealth’s offshore area to oil and gas exploration and drilling. Accordingly, we again request that the Department of Commerce revoke these IHAs, and that the Department of the Interior deny all pending seismic survey permits for the Atlantic.”

“Assaulting our ocean with seismic airguns in search of dirty and dangerous offshore oil is reckless and wrong,” said Diane Hoskins, Offshore Drilling Campaign Director of Oceana. “Today’s letter calls on President Trump’s administration to do the right thing and protect Virginia from the harms associated with offshore drilling. Seismic airgun blasting threatens serious injury and even death to whales, dolphins and other marine life.  This dangerous blasting is being proposed so that companies can come in and drill for oil and gas off the Atlantic coast. Local communities and businesses up and down the East Coast have objected to expanded offshore drilling activities, like seismic airgun blasting.”

Full letter text is available here.

Background:

The issuance of the five IHA permits is a significant step in allowing companies to conduct widespread seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean for the purposes of oil and gas exploration.

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Contact: Jamitress Bowden
(202) 225-6365