Gov. John Carney and a group of bipartisan governors recently urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to halt harmful seismic testing and offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean after the announcement that the Donald Trump Administration authorized airgun use in waters off the East Coast.

“As the governors of 10 states on the Atlantic seaboard, we write to reiterate our strong opposition to seismic airgun surveys and oil and gas drilling off our coasts,” wrote the governors. “These activities pose an unacceptable and unnecessary threat to our coastal ecosystems and coastal economies.”

In addition to Carney, the letter was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker, of Massachusetts; Gov. Roy Cooper, of North Carolina; Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of New York; Gov. Larry Hogan, of Maryland; Gov. Dannel Malloy, of Connecticut; Gov. Henry McMaster, of South Carolina; Gov. Phil Murphy, of New Jersey; Gov. Ralph Northam, of Virginia; and Gov. Gina Raimondo, of Rhode Island.

In November, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Fisheries department issued incidental harassment authorizations for seismic airgun surveys to five companies searching for oil and gas deposits in the Atlantic. The decision follows months of vocal opposition from states along the East Coast, which have repeatedly urged the federal government to protect coastal tourism and fisheries by preventing seismic testing and offshore drilling.

In the letter sent Dec. 20, the governors urged the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Commerce to deny all permit applications for seismic testing, exclude the waters off the East Coast from the 2019-24 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for offshore drilling, avoid issuing further IHAs for seismic airgun surveys and prevent any future offshore drilling efforts in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Drilling in the Atlantic would pose significant threats to Delaware’s natural resources and our economy,” said Carney. “I am proud to stand with fellow Atlantic state governors in opposition to seismic testing and drilling for oil and gas off our coasts. There’s too much at risk for Delaware and the Atlantic Seaboard to allow this to go unchallenged.”

The letter is available at

Seismic testing and offshore drilling pose economic and environmental threats to communities along the Atlantic Coast, which generate more than $98 billion in gross domestic product each year. Seismic airgun pulses can deplete fish populations that are vital for commercial and recreational fishing industries and offshore drilling increases the risk of catastrophic oil spills, which devastate marine life and tourism and hurt coastal economies. Tourism associations, chambers of commerce, convention and visitors’ bureaus, trade groups, businesses, elected officials and local governments have formally opposed seismic testing and offshore drilling.

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