US approves oil, gas seismic testing in Atlantic Ocean

After months of delays, the Trump administration announced Friday that it had approved seismic testing for oil and natural gas reserves along the US East Coast, a necessary step in opening US Atlantic waters to drilling.

The Trump administration tentatively plans to hold two Atlantic lease sales, one for drilling rights in the South Atlantic and one for rights in the Mid-Atlantic, in 2020. They would be the first of nine Atlantic sales the administration has included in its draft proposed leasing plan for 2019 through 2024.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries on Friday issued final authorizations for five companies to conduct geophysical surveys using airgun arrays in the Atlantic Ocean. The authorizations, made under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, will allow these companies to “incidentally, but not intentionally, harass marine mammals to … conduct geophysical surveys in support of hydrocarbon exploration in the Atlantic Ocean,” the agency said.

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