Editorial: Make voices heard on seismic surveying

The oil explorers are readying their seismic air guns to sound out deposits off the Georgia coast. As our time to sound off against the practice runs short, we must pump up the volume.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries division recently issued incidental harassment authorizations to five seafloor surveying firms. The NOAA endorsement removes the first of two bureaucratic obstacles to offshore exploration.

The permitting requests now lie with the final approvers at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The body denied the permits in 2017, but that was prior to the Trump administration prioritizing offshore energy exploration to establish “a new path for energy dominance in America,” as described by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

Expect the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, to act on the requests quickly. NOAA Fisheries authorizations require that surveyors begin their work within one year and complete it within two.

Considering the size of the exploration area -- from Cape May, N.J., to Cape Canaveral, Fla. -- the geologists will be lobbying hard for quick action.

Local residents and officials must counter that push.

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