Letter from Senator Carper re Seismic Blasting
A couple members of the Shore Democrats wrote a letter to Senator Tom Carper about offshore drilling and seismic testing off the Atlantic coast. Senator Carper responded with the following letter, which should be of interest because of the actions taken recently by towns up and down Coastal Delaware.
May 11, 2016
"Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns regarding seismic testing and Atlantic offshore drilling. I appreciate hearing from you on these important matters.
"Let me begin by saying that I have always believed we should pursue an all-of-the-above strategy to meet our country's energy needs – everything from solar and wind to natural gas should be on our radar screen. While I don't believe we can drill our way to energy independence, I have supported limited exploration in the past if it is done without jeopardizing the health of our environment or diminishing states' interests. I believe it is possible to strike this balance. In Delaware, our beaches and coastlines play a critical role in the state's economy by attracting millions of tourists each year. I believe we must be mindful not to compromise our environment and our tourist economy as we consider any activity off our coasts or the coasts of neighboring states.
"I have heard growing concerns from stakeholders and constituents, like yourself, regarding the possible environmental impacts from the usage of seismic testing for offshore energy projects. As you may know, seismic testing is the surveying technique used in the preparation of a myriad of offshore energy development projects, including offshore drilling and offshore wind projects. Seismic testing can provide information about the location and amount of offshore oil and gas reserves and can provide information about the ocean floor conditions needed for offshore energy installations. While seismic testing is necessary both offshore fossil fuel exploration and renewable offshore development, it is important to note that not all seismic testing is the same. For fossil fuel exploration, seismic testing involves firing loud shots of compressed air through the water miles into the seabed in search of oil and gas deposits. Renewable offshore projects, such as offshore wind, use a less intrusive form of seismic testing. This form produces less intense sounds and covers a much smaller area than fossil fuel seismic testing. Seismic testing cannot commence before receiving a permit from the Bureau of Ocean Management.
"As you mentioned, on March 15, 2016, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management updated its draft proposal for the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The updated proposal removed all areas off the coasts of Atlantic states for offshore drilling. That means as of now, although there is a potential for seismic testing in federal waters offshore of Delaware, there is not a potential for oil and gas exploration leasing in the near future. I will continue to closely monitor this proposal and any possible proposals for Delaware seismic testing to ensure we do not unduly jeopardize the health of our environment and our economy.
With that being said, we must develop a long-term, comprehensive energy policy to achieve energy security and independence. Moreover, as additional oil and gas are produced in our country, I believe that those domestic resources should be used here at home. I am hopeful we can work with the administration to develop clean energy off our shores, such as offshore wind. As a former Governor, I have seen the benefit of cooperation between the federal government and the states to achieve shared goals like preserving and protecting our environment.
"In the long-term, our nation must make a stronger commitment to reducing our energy demands largely—though not entirely—through conservation and investments in clean, safe nuclear power and renewable energy alternatives. I strongly believe that America's current energy policy is out of step with today's energy needs, and we urgently need a long-term vision for our country's energy future. I have enough faith in American technology, ingenuity and know-how to believe we can provide that leadership without endangering our nation's economic growth. In fact, if we're smart about it, we will end up strengthening our nation's economy, create hundreds of thousands of new "green" jobs, and create products and technology that we can export around the world.
"Again, thank you for contacting my office. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about other matters of importance to you.
"With best personal regards, I am,
United States Senator"