25 Apr We won a battle but war rages on
Myrtle Beach Sun News
April 20, 2016
Derail the seismic-testing train
By Frank Knapp Jr., SC Small Business Chamber
If the Obama administration was recently convinced to change course and not
allow drilling for oil and gas off the Mid-Atlantic coast, why is it moving
ahead with giving permits for destructive seismic testing for oil deposits
in the same area?
That’s the question many in the successful anti-drilling coalition of
coastal governments, businesses (including the South Carolina Small Business
Chamber), environmental groups and concerned citizens are asking.
Unfortunately the answer is pretty simple. Offshore drilling and seismic
testing were always on two different administrative procedure tracks. We
derailed the drilling-train on one track but the seismic testing-train was
further down the line on a different track. And that latter train could
arrive at the Atlantic station as early as this summer unless we derail it
Seismic testing poses great risks to our marine life which thus threatens
our fisheries, sport fishing and other tourism dependent on a healthy ocean.
For days and weeks on end high-intensity blasts of compressed air would be
set off every 10 seconds from ships to obtain information from under the
Atlantic sea bed about possible oil reserves.
If you lived in the ocean in the path of seismic testing, you would already
be making plans to move. But you would need to move far, far away since the
sound from these loud seismic blasts can carry up to 2,500 miles under
water. The marine life will respond just like you would if your life was so
disrupted. It will leave if it can. If it can’t, it will stop all normal
activities. The very survival of marine life that is dependent on auditory
communication to navigate, find food and even locate others of its kind to
mate will be in jeopardy. Seismic testing will also result in harm to marine
animals that migrate along the Atlantic coast.
But why do we need seismic testing at all if offshore drilling is off the
table and can only be revisited many years from now? The answer to this
question depends on who you ask. If you ask the oil companies, they will
tell you that they want the information in their back pockets just in case
the time comes that offshore drilling is ever allowed. The 30-year old data
on oil deposits they now have was produced with inferior technology so it
might not be accurate.
If you ask the seismic testing companies, and they are honest, they’ll tell
you that they can’t make money if they don’t test. It’s what they do.
If you ask the politicians who still support seismic testing, they’ll give
you the same bogus response they gave for supporting drilling: more jobs,
increased revenue for the states and national energy independence.
And if you ask the federal agencies, they will tell you that unless the
President tells them to stop, they are only carrying out an administrative
process already set in place.
Our responses to these answers should be just as straightforward and succinct.
Oil companies: if you can’t do offshore drilling for another 20, 25, 30
years from now (or ever), why do you need data from a testing technology
that will be out-of-date by the time information is relevant? Testing with
new technology will surely be required if drilling is ever allowed. This is
a waste of your time and money.
Seismic testing companies: we don’t care if you lose multi-millions of
dollars of business. Get out of the stone age and develop new, less
environmentally-destructive testing technology.
Pro-testing politicians: seismic testing won’t create jobs, or put more
dollars into the public treasury or result in national energy independence.
Swallow your pride and declare that no drilling means no testing. Listen to
the growing public opposition. Acknowledge that the risks are too great with
no tangible public benefits. Get in front of the parade instead of getting
trampled by it.
Federal agencies: thank you for concluding that offshore drilling in the
mid-Atlantic was a bad idea. Now we need you to reach the same decision for
testing and we’ll help by letting the President know that pursuing seismic
testing makes no sense at all.
You can also sign the petition here.
Knapp is the president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. He can be contacted at email@example.com.