Editorial: Seismic testing's real threat to the region

THE TRUMP administration’s decision last month to allow seismic air gun testing in the Atlantic Ocean — a substantial step toward opening the area for oil and gas exploration — represents a profound threat to the economy and life of Hampton Roads.

On Nov. 30, the National Marine Fisheries Service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, approved five requests for companies to conduct seismic air gun surveys of the ocean floor. It’s a process that involves blasting acoustic waves 10-12 seconds apart to develop a clearer idea of where oil and gas deposits might be found.

Trouble is, the sound waves could harm or kill marine life and disrupt fisheries.

According to The Washington Post, a 2014 model prepared by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management found that “nearly 2.5 million dolphins would be harassed or possibly killed by acoustic sound blasts each year in the middle and southern Atlantic, and nearly a half-million pilot whales would be affected.”

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