Jacksonville, FL - After previously spearheading a bipartisan letter asking the Interior Secretary and Commerce Secretary to block seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean, Northeast Florida Republican Congressman John Rutherford is taking the effort a step further.
He and New Jersey Democratic Congressman Jeff Van Drew have now teamed up to introduce what they're calling the ‘Atlantic Coastal Economies Protection Act.’ Rutherford says this is in response to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issuing five Incidental Harassment Authorizations. These IHAs would advance permit applications for seismic air gun blasting off the East Coast. But, this newly introduced bill would prohibit these permit applications from moving forward in the Atlantic Ocean.
Rutherford says seismic air gun testing raises a number of concerns, including how it would impact national security.
“Think about our military operations out there. You know, we have Kings Bay, with the sub-surface submarines out there. We don’t what all the impacts on these operations will be yet. In fact, the Navy, I understand, is still looking at that,” explains Rutherford.
He says the testing is also a direct threat to coastal fishing and tourism economies.
“The difference for Florida, versus say Texas or Louisiana is our beaches, are a tourist destination. We can not afford to have, you know, a Deepwater Horizon incident [oil spill] or something else of that ilk, because it is so important to our economic prosperity in the state of Florida,” says Rutherford.
Rutherford says this seismic testing is also the first step toward offshore oil and gas exploration, but the information gained through these seismic tests is all proprietary, so the government gets no useful information from this.
“I look at it this way-- If the US government wanted to know what our strategic reserves might be that are in the ground, they’re not going to get it through this seismic testing... I don’t know how that helps our future reserves, when we’re not given the information,” says Rutherford. He further adds that right now, given the energy situation that the US is in, we don’t need to be doing this seismic testing or exploration, because it’s not necessary.
Ultimately, he says this bill is fighting for the economic viability of our coast.
Rutherford and Van Drew are also joined by New Jersey Representative Chris Smith, South Carolina Representative Joe Cunningham, Florida Representative Brian Mast, and Florida Representative Donna Shalala.
Proud to join my colleague @CongressmanJVD in introducing the bipartisan Atlantic Coastal Economic Protection Act, which will protect the Atlantic Coast from seismic testing in federal waters, the first step towards offshore drilling. #ProtectOurCoast #NoSeismic #BlocktheBlast— Rep. John Rutherford (@RepRutherfordFL) February 11, 2019
The waters off the East Coast are home to vulnerable mammal populations, military operations, tourist destinations, and a vibrant maritime economy. Allowing seismic testing is unnecessary and potentially hazardous to the coastal communities that rely on a healthy ecosystem.— Rep. John Rutherford (@RepRutherfordFL) February 11, 2019