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Attorney General Josh Stein Fights to Protect Atlantic Ocean Federal Authorization of Seismic Testing Violates Environmental Laws

Release date: 12/20/2018

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today moved to intervene in a lawsuit to stop the proposed use of airguns to survey the Atlantic Ocean floor for oil and gas.  These “seismic testing” surveys are the next step toward allowing offshore drilling- an action that would result in severe and potentially irreparable harm to our coastline and its critically important tourism and fishing economy.

“North Carolina’s beautiful coastline supports tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “That is why I am fighting this move to take our state one step closer to offshore drilling. I will continue to do everything in my power to protect our state’s coast.”

The pending lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and federal officials was filed last Tuesday in South Carolina by a coalition of local and national non-governmental organizations. In moving to intervene on the side of the organizations, the Attorneys General are seeking to file their own complaint on behalf of their respective states.

In 2014 and 2015, five private companies applied to the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for permits to use air guns for seismic testing, in search of oil and gas, across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. In July 2017, Attorney General Stein urged the NMFS to deny the IHA applications.

Despite widespread criticism of the proposed testing from the scientific community and the public, NMFS granted the companies’ applications for IHAs in November 2018. In challenging the grant of the IHAs, the coalition of attorneys general charges that NMFS’s approval violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Administrative Procedure Act.

Attorney General Stein is joined in today’s action by the attorneys general from Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Virginia, and New York.

Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484


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