Edgewater Online

Edgewater's Online News Website Search Engine

Fri12062019

Last updateThu, 05 Dec 2019 12pm

You are here: Home News "Beyond Bergen" - News From Across New Jersey Loud and clear, N.J. is not having a blast at coast | Editorial

News From "Beyond Bergen"

Loud and clear, N.J. is not having a blast at coast | Editorial

Seismic testing off the Atlantic Coast is an unwanted precursor to offshore drilling, and New Jersey's lawmakers should try to stop it.

One reason that U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist., will be missed when Congress reorganizes is that the congressman is fighting to the end to protect the New Jersey coastline from offshore oil and gas drilling.

With only about three weeks until retirement, LoBiondo let it be known last week that he's added his name to those of 92 other House members who are pushing back against the Trump administration's latest gambit to lure energy companies to the Atlantic Ocean in search of fossil fuels that they can convert into cash.

New Jersey's congressional delegation has long been successful in fighting off authorization to open the ocean off our state far and wide to oil rigs, the Trump drill-baby-drill team's newest effort pulls an end run under the guise of research.

Late last month, the federal government, through the National Marine Fisheries Service, authorized Marine Mammal Protection Act permits for five companies to use powerful compressed air blasts to survey what lurks beneath the ocean floor in the mid- and south Atlantic. The results of this "seismic testing," as it is called, are known to be of more interest to energy prospectors than to legitimate marine-life scientists. 

The automated air-gun blasts, which can take place every 10-12 seconds for months at a time in a designated area, provide data about sand and gravel and sea floor hazards, but they also help to discern where oil and gas deposits are lurking.

What's wrong with knowing if there are deposits? Nothing, really, except that in a Trump administration that is tone-deaf to threatened species -- and to threatened water-related tourism -- the cheerleading for pulling that oil and gas out of the ocean will get louder if the results suggest that even a teaspoon of black gold, Texas tea, etc., is recoverable.

The northernmost spot for the pending blast permits is the New Jersey-Delaware line. For a region whose economy depends so much on commercial and recreational fishing, beach-going and wildlife sightseeing, any spill from the drilling activity would be disastrous. It would be different if the United States were in an  emergency stemming from a severe energy shortage, but we're not. The temptation for President Donald Trump to open new offshore oil spigots just to ease price pressures -- caused in part by Trump's renewal of sanctions against Iran, for example -- might prove irresistible.

The negative impacts of the seismic testing itself are less certain and subject to some embellishment by environmental groups that claim it will drive into extinction species such as the North American whale. But it stands to reason that incredibly loud blasts and the sound waves they create will cause some disruption to habitat for all sorts of aquatic creatures.

It's U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and scandal-plagued Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke who will issue the final go-ahead for the testing under misleadingly named "incidental harm authorizations." Don't expect a fair hearing from these zealots for the destruction of federally managed land. So, it's important for New Jersey's congressional delegation to hang together and use their political clout to oppose this threat.

New Jersey gets four new members of Congress next month. While it's expected they'll also oppose the seismic tests and any drilling authorization, they'll need to schooled on how to do so effectively. Sadly, LoBiondo's expertise will be gone, but other ocean champions like Rep. Frank Pallone, D-5th Dist., and Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, both D-N.J., can lead the way.

Send a letter to the editor of South Jersey Times at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.


Read full article at NJ.com


Share