President Obama has less than two weeks left in office, but he isn't letting that stop from issuing new energy regulations, with his Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announcing it has denied permits to allow seismic testing — the technology used to determine if and how much oil and natural gas exists offshore — in the Atlantic Ocean.
While activists and some local elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), support BOEM’s move, a national veterans group expressed disappointment with the decision.
“BOEM’s decision to block seismic surveys is another example of how this administration is stopping anything that touches traditional energy development, regardless of the damage it does to our nation,” said Capt. James McCormick, US Army (ret.), three-time Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Silver Star recipient, and current program manager of Vets4Energy.
Vets4Energy is a national group of veterans who advocate for policies that increase the country’s energy independence.
“Banning the private sector’s ability to safely learn what energy lies beneath our waves makes no sense,” added McCormick. “And it damages our energy security, takes away jobs, and in this instance, keeps private industry from investing in safe research.”
McCormick also questions the decision in light of BOEM’s past statements that seismic testing is safe.
"There has been no documented scientific evidence of noise from air guns used in geological and geophysical (G&G) seismic activities adversely affecting marine animal populations or coastal communities," wrote the BOEM's chief environmental officer, William Y. Brown, in a August 22, 2014 "Science Note" published by the bureau.
"This technology has been used for more than 30 years around the world," continued Brown. "It is still used in U.S. waters off of the Gulf of Mexico with no known detrimental impact to marine animal populations or to commercial fishing."
Vets4Energy has been critical of past Obama Administration offshore drilling regulations.
Last year, the organization’s South Carolina volunteer chairman, William L. Schachte, a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, told Palmetto Business Daily that the administration’s decision to ban drilling in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf put “unwarranted fear above sound science, and politics over national security.”
Rep. Sanford, who once favored offshore energy development, called BOEM’s decision a “big win for coastal communities” and thanked “the decision makers at BOEM.”