Federal Regulators green-light east-coast offshore oil exploration

July 22, 2014

Companies to use air guns and sonic sensors to pinpoint deposits from Delaware to Florida

The U.S. oil and gas industry has won an important victory over environmentalists, following the Obama administration's decision to approve oil and gas exploration on the east coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

The decision allows oil and gas companies to use air guns and sonic sensors to locate deposits below the ocean bottom from Delaware to Florida. It could mean a potential transformation of the east coast energy sector, boosting economic development for the states along the coast and potentially creating thousands of jobs. But it has also caused concern among those relying on fishery and tourism to make their living, the Associated Press reported.

Businesses that want to start oil and gas exploration off the east coast will have to apply for individual permits for seismic studies. These applications will be subject to tight environmental scrutiny before exploration activities are allowed to start, the decision by the Interior Department said. Companies that are granted permits will most likely be allowed to start exploring the Atlantic Ocean's bottom in 2018, when new drilling leases will be approved.

The use of sonic cannons to pinpoint fuel deposits is likely to harm aquatic life, including whales, dolphins and turtles. The technology sends strong sound waves across the water every ten seconds and exploration could last for weeks within an area. Even though the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management admitted that thousands of sea creatures will be harmed, it decided to approve exploration activities off a section of the East Coast.