Trump OKs seismic tests in Atlantic that can harm thousands of dolphins & whales

Trump’s about to make a bunch of whales, turtles, and dolphins go deaf.

The Trump administration is about to take a preliminary step toward oil and natural gas drilling off the Atlantic shore, by approving requests from energy companies to conduct “deafening seismic tests that could harm tens of thousands of dolphins, whales and other marine animals,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

The information was revealed in a NOAA call with reporters.

“The Trump administration is ignoring threats to whales, dolphins and other marine life to further its ongoing quest for energy dominance,” says the National Parks Conservation Association:

The Trump Administration today advanced plans related to offshore drilling exploration in the Atlantic Ocean, threatening whales, turtles, fish and marine life near 33 coastal national parks. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Fisheries Service issued Incidental Harassment Authorizations, allowing companies to disturb federally protected marine mammals through seismic airgun testing. Such testing would take place along the coast from Delaware to central Florida, with far-reaching threats to marine life up and down the eastern seaboard.

Five companies applied last year to search for oil and gas deposits beneath the Atlantic seafloor using seismic airgun technology. The technology involves shooting loud blasts of compressed air down into the seafloor to locate underground deposits of fossil fuels. Today’s approval serves as a final procedural step before approving permits for five companies.

Scientists have warned that this practice threatens whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine life, and may force these animals from their feeding, breeding or calving habitats. Seismic airgun use has been linked to the stranding deaths of whales, dolphins and porpoises, and can cause deafness and other impairment in animals.

From Whales.org:

November 30, 2018-Today, the Trump Administration announced it will authorize five permit requests to conduct seismic testing along the US East coast, a year-round habitat for endangered North Atlantic right whales. Seismic surveys are used to search for deposits of fossil fuels by emitting loud pulsing sounds every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day. These pulses are known to harass, harm, and even kill whales and dolphins.

Once abundant in the eastern and western North Atlantic, only an estimated 411 North Atlantic right whales survive in a reduced habitat range along the East Coast of the United States and Atlantic Canada. Since April of 2017, an unprecedented loss of 20 right whales from human impacts has drastically reduced the population, putting them at risk of extinction. Both visual and acoustical data confirm that right whales use the mid-Atlantic region of the US year round to feed, socialize, and nurse calves. Furthermore, research shows that man-made noise increases stress hormones in right whales which can impact their ability to reproduce and lower their immune systems.

“North Atlantic right whales, a species already imperiled by humans, are now being pushed closer to extinction, not only from loud and stressful seismic testing, but from the long term risk of future oil spills” said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, executive director of Whale and Dolphin Conservation. The risk of oil spills has been an ongoing concern for east coast communities, more than 200 of which have openly opposed offshore drilling.

Emerging research underscores the critical role North Atlantic right whales play in the ecosystem by supplying nutrients to phytoplankton, which produces most of the world’s oxygen, is the base on which fish stocks depend, and is a major pathway for carbon sequestration. Furthermore, the long term impacts from potential oil spills are significant. Research after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill estimated that the true death toll to whales and dolphins could be 50 times greater than the number of animals found.

WDC is fighting to save North Atlantic Right Whales. You can DONATE AND HELP.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The planned Friday announcement by the National Marine Fisheries Service, a division of the Commerce Department, to issue “incidental take” permits allowing companies to harm wildlife is likely to further antagonize a dozen governors in states on the Eastern Seaboard who strongly oppose the administration’s proposal to expand federal oil and gas leases to the Atlantic. Federal leases could lead to exploratory drilling for the first time in more than half a century.

In addition to harming sea life, acoustic tests — in which boats tugging rods pressurized for sound emit jet-engine-like booms 10 to 12 seconds apart for days and sometimes months — can disrupt thriving commercial fisheries. Governors, state lawmakers and attorneys general along the Atlantic coast say drilling threatens beach tourism that has flourished on the coast in the absence of oil production.

Seismic testing maps the ocean floor and estimates the whereabouts of oil and gas, but only exploratory drilling can confirm their presence. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill that soiled the Gulf of Mexico resulted from an exploratory drill. Another gulf disaster that looms almost as large has spewed oil for more than 14 years. The Taylor Energy Co. spill of up to an estimated 700 barrels a day started when a hurricane ripped up production wells, and could continue for the rest of the century, according to the Interior Department

The fisheries service announcement comes just a week after the Trump administration released a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey showing that excavating and burning fossil fuels from federal land comprised nearly a fourth of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States over a decade ending in 2014.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the administration published a much larger report by 13 federal agencies projecting the severe economic costs of climate change as coastal flooding and wildfires worsen, and hurricanes become more severe. After the administration’s critics accused it of trying to bury the report with a release on Black Friday, President Trump dismissed it out of hand.

This is important and awful. Read the whole story, reported by Darryl Fears: “Trump administration OKs seismic tests that could harm thousands of dolphins and whales.”