Episode 3: Seismic Airgun Testing

In the summer of 2014, President Obama gave the green light for oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic coast—a complete reversal in Obama’s 2008 campaign platform. In June of that election year, Obama visited Jacksonville, Florida and chastised then-candidate John McCain for his pro-off shore-drilling stance. At the time, Obama said that lifting the ban "would have long-term consequences for our coastline, and no short-term benefits.”

Today, nine applications for seismic air gun testing are under consideration at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Seismic testing—sometimes known more graphically as “seismic air gun blasting”—is a technology that maps oil and gas deposits in the ocean. The process involves sonic bursts in 10 second intervals that continue for days, weeks, and sometimes months. The “bursts” are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine.

The consequences of seismic testing have manifested in locations across the world: drastically reduced fishery numbers; marine animal deaths, behavioral disruptions, and breeding interruptions; and job elimination.

  The endangered North Atlantic Right Whale is among a number of marine species   potentially impacted seismic airgun testing. Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission/NOAA

The endangered North Atlantic Right Whale is among a number of marine species potentially impacted seismic airgun testing. Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission/NOAA

The Matanzas Riverkeeper and Oceana are two organizations opposed to the proposed seismic testing. Joined by coalition members like the Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club and Surfrider, they’re calling on Florida’s elected officials to take a stance on this potentially devastating sonic blasting.

To learn more about seismic testing, visit Oceana, the Matanzas Riverkeeper, and Environmental Youth Council. To read about President Obama's 2008 position on off-shore oil drilling, visit this article by the Florida Times-Union. Reports from the New York Times, International Business Times, and thinkprogress.org discuss Obama's green light on seismic testing.

Subscribe to Watershed via iTunes. Listen to us via SoundCloud. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.