Cape Environmental Group Supports Lawsuit Aimed at Protecting Ocean Wildlife

HYANNIS – Attorney General Maura Healey has joined in on a multi-state lawsuit against U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and the National Marine Fisheries Service in an effort to end a plan allowing suspected harmful seismic testing for offshore oil and gas resources in the Atlantic Ocean.

The suit, filed in the U.S. Court for the District of South Carolina, joins a challenge by environmental groups last week against Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs) recently issued by NMFS that permit five private companies to harm marine wildlife in connection with seismic testing for offshore oil and gas exploration in the Mid- and South-Atlantic Ocean.

Healey has stated that the issuance of IHAs for the five seismic testing companies—Spectrum Geo Inc., TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company, ION GeoVentures, WesternGeco, LLC, and CCG—is illegal, not based on scientific evidence, and an abuse of NMFS’s discretion.

“We have been very strongly opposed to this blasting initiative, feeling that it is going to provide a un-do amount of risk to the beaches and the water quality that will affect all of Cape Cod and our way of life,” said Andrew Gottlieb, Executive Director of the Association to Preserve Cape Cod.

The lawsuit alleges violations of environmental laws and argues that the use of seismic air guns has the potential to harm more than 300,000 marine mammals.

“The concern is that seismic testing is going to be incredibly damaging to all forms of marine life, in particular migratory marine animals like the endangered wright whales.”

“You make a lot of noise in the ocean and it will disrupt the life cycle of these animals,” adds Gottlieb.

According to recent reports, more than 41,000 businesses and 500,000 commercial fishing families along the Atlantic coast oppose offshore oil and gas drilling because of the harm it poses to the coastal ecosystems and economies.

The multi-state lawsuit, led by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, is joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia.

By JOHN BONDAREK, CapeCod.Com News Center

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