Delaware Public Media

Environmentalists react to authorization of seismic testing off Delaware's coast

Dec 3, 2018

Environmental groups are decrying the Trump administration’s decision allowing seismic testing off the First State’s coast.


The Trump administration is moving forward with expansion of offshore drilling in U.S. waters, despite opposition from states and activists.

It issued a final decision late last week authorizing permits for five companies to use seismic air guns to search for oil and gas deposits in the Atlantic Ocean from Delaware to Florida.

Suzanne Thurman with the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute (MERR), says blasts happening every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day for weeks or months can cause injuries or death in plankton, fish, dolphins and whales.

“Brain hemorrhaging, organ hemorrhaging, eardrum rupturing and loss of earing for them means loss of life because they’re sound reliant," she said. "It will cause mothers and calves to be separated, displacement, prey sources impacted.” So for the marine animals, what will happen to them is often fatal and at the very least is very harmful.”

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management found the air guns have the potential to disrupt behavior patterns and cause ear injuries, but no deaths are expected.

Through a spokesman, Gov. John Carney said he opposes the decision to allow the seismic surveys, especially as a first step to offshore drilling.

"This is a idea for our environment and our economy, especially if this is a precursor to drilling to drilling for oil and gas in the Atlantic," he said. "We have been clear with the Trump adminstration about the dangers of oil and gas drilling off Delaware's coast or elsewhere in the Atlantic."

Carney signed legislation in September banning offshore drilling in state waters and protecting Delaware’s environmental rights. Sen. Stephanie Hansen says the state may be able to use the new protections to try to stop the administration from pursuing offshore drilling off Delaware's coast.