House members ask Obama to request final Atlantic seismic EIS

Forty US House members signed a Mar. 21 letter asking US President Barack Obama to urge his administration to complete an environmental impact statement (EIS) for a proposed seismic assessment of oil and gas resources on the US Atlantic Continental Shelf.

“It has been nearly two generations since seismic testing was conducted along our eastern seaboard. Since that time, technological advancements have rendered those previous findings nearly irrelevant,” said the letter from Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Robert Wittman (R-Va.), 36 other Republicans, and Texas Democrats Henry Cuellar and Gene Green.

They noted that the US Department of the Interior held its initial Atlantic seismic EIS scoping meeting in April 2010. After the fiscal 2010 House Interior appropriations bill instructed DOI to indicate its expected timeline for the EIS’s completion, DOI said in February 2010 that it expected it to be completed by April 2012, the letter said.

“With nearly a full year having passed beyond this target date, we would urge the swift completion of this environmental analysis so that the many seismic permits already submitted to DOI may be properly considered, along with any future applications,” it added.

Among the 40 House members signing the letter were 7 from Virginia, 5 from South Carolina, 5 from North Carolina, 2 from Georgia, 1 from Florida, and 1 from Maryland.

Confirms strong support

National Ocean Industries Association Pres. Randall B. Luthi said on Mar. 22 that the letter “again confirms strong support from across the Mid- and South Atlantic region for finally conducting a modern seismic survey of potential oil and gas resources in Atlantic waters.”

Luthi said, “For over a generation, Americans have been forced to ignore these potential resources, relying upon outdated estimates using older technology. In a classic Catch-22, we have been prevented from using new technology to get more accurate readings of what is out there, then had that same lack of information used to justify the current administrative prohibitions on Atlantic leasing.”

He continued, “The use of modern seismic imaging techniques is the first step to making science-based, data-driven decisions about where to look for energy resources. Following this, actual exploration and development will be needed to reveal the true resource potential of this region, and history tells us we are likely to find more than is currently thought to exist.”

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the DOI agency responsible for managing the Atlantic OCS, did not respond to OGJ’s request for information on the seismic EIS’s status or when it possibly will be completed.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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