Crowd at Cape May Convention Hall display signs in opposition to offshore seismic testing for oil March 18. Photo by Bill Barlow.

Speakers Blast Offshore Seismic Testing

CAPE MAY – Business leaders, Republican and Democratic officials, environmentalists and busloads of high school students gathered at Cape May Convention Hall March 18, in opposition to offshore oil exploration.

With the beach and ocean behind them, speaker after speaker decried federal plans to explore for oil along the Atlantic Coast, and the seismic testing that uses sound waves to explore the ocean floor. Speakers said the intensity of the blast does serious harm to marine mammals and other sea life.

The Trump administration is set to release a five-year plan for federal waters, expected to expand the areas available for offshore drilling. In November, federal officials issued authorization for five companies to use sound to search for oil. The authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act allow for the incidental harassment of otherwise protected marine mammals, but not their deliberate injury.

While debate continues nationally on the future of fossil fuels, on a sunny, breezy day on Cape May’s beachfront the message from South Jersey was clear – leave our ocean alone. Several of the speakers mentioned the diverse voices gathered at the event.

They included some political opponents, such as Lower Township Mayor Erik Simonsen, who, along with Ocean City Councilman Antwan McClellan, is set to challenge incumbent Democrats Bruce Land and Matthew Milam in November. The incumbents spoke at the event. Land and Simonsen shook hands as the crowd broke up.

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