BOEM - Federal permits are expected to be issued issued for seismic blast testing in any or all of five areas offshore.

Offshore seismic testing for oil and gas deadline triggers SC request for injunction

Offshore seismic testing opponents are preparing for the worst. The March 1 deadline arrived Friday that federal regulators told a judge would be the earliest that permits could be issued to allow blast-testing for oil and natural gas reserves in the Atlantic, including off South Carolina.

The Trump administration earlier gave the go-ahead for the work to begin.

As the deadline came, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson filed an injunction to block the testing, joining an injunction request filed previously by nine conservation groups, as well as a separate injunction filed by 16 coastal communities and the S.C. Small Business Alliance.

The motions are pending with the U.S. District Court in Charleston.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management could issue the permits “at their own peril” before the court issues a ruling, said attorney Catherine Wannamaker with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is representing the conservation groups.

There is a 30-day waiting period after permits are issued, she said, and BOEM previously has said no boats would be in the water for surveys before April 10.

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