Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 6, 2017

Contact:  Kristen Monsell, (914) 806-3467,

Obama Administration Denies Oil Industry Requests for Atlantic Oil Exploration

Decision Protects Whales, Dolphins From Harmful Seismic Surveys

WASHINGTON— The Obama administration today denied six permit applications for oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic Coast — from Florida to Delaware — including requests to search for fossil fuels using noisy airguns that hurt whales, dolphins and other animals.

“Without a doubt, this decision will save whales, dolphins and other animals from suffering painful hearing loss and other damage inflicted by these terrible blasts of noise,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “And it's yet another important signal to the oil industry that the Atlantic is closed for business.”

The decision, announced by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, cited the fact the Atlantic is now off limits to new oil leasing until at least 2022 as one of the reasons it denied the permits.

Seismic exploration surveys use high-powered airguns to search for oil and generate the loudest human sounds in the ocean, short of explosives. The blasts, which can reach more than 250 decibels, can cause hearing loss in marine mammals, disturb essential behaviors such as feeding and breeding over vast distances, mask communications between individual whales and dolphins, and reduce catch rates of commercial fish.

Today's decision follows release of the 2017-2022 national offshore oil and gas leasing plan, which removed federal waters in the mid- and south Atlantic from availability for leasing until at least 2022. President Obama also recently permanently withdrew 31 canyons in the Atlantic from future oil and gas leasing.

“This closes the door on the oil industry's attempts to pollute the Atlantic Coast and damage our ocean and climate. The Atlantic should be permanently off limits to oil drilling and exploration to safeguard wildlife and the eastern seaboard from damage and oil spills,” said Sakashita.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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