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Bill introduced to prevent seismic air gun testing in Atlantic Ocean

U.S. Reps. John Rutherford, Jeff Van Drew introduce bill

(Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. John Rutherford, R-Florida, and Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-New Jersey, have introduced a bill to prohibit permit applications for seismic air gun testing in the Atlantic Ocean.

A release from Rutherford's office said the bill was introduced in response to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issuing five Incidental Harassment Authorizations that would advance permit applications for seismic air gun blasting off the Atlantic coast.

Seismic air gun testing is a step toward offshore oil and gas development and, according to the release, "a direct threat to the coastal fishing and tourism economies dependent on healthy ocean ecosystems."

"The waters off the east coast are home to vulnerable mammal populations, military operations, tourist destinations and a vibrant maritime economy," Rutherford said. "Allowing seismic testing in the Atlantic is unnecessary and potentially hazardous to the coastal communities that rely on a healthy ecosystem. The U.S. should not jeopardize our coastal economy by expanding seismic testing and offshore drilling, particularly when our energy needs continue to be met."

"Our local economy is dependent on fishing, tourism and wildlife watching -- the bottom line is offshore oil and gas drilling isn't worth the risk," Van Drew said.

The bill is called the Atlantic Coastal Economies Protection Act, according to the release.