RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Whoever becomes the next president. one topic that person is sure to have to address is the future of offshore energy exploration in the Atlantic Ocean.
In Washington, 33 members of Congress wrote a letter to the federal government asking to put a halt to the permitting process for seismic testing in the Atlantic.
One of those was Democratic Congressman David Price.
The 33 who signed the letter included Democrats and Republicans. They are asking for a new environmental study.
Price, in an interview Monday at WNCN, voiced concerns about any potential impacts to marine life or the environment.
“The coastal communities, the tourism industries, there are a lot of people who are very wary about this and I think rightly so,” said Price, who represents North Carolina’s 4th District.
The letter went to the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, an agency that issues permits on potential seismic testing in the Atlantic.
“Let’s make sure we understand the impact of it,” Price said. “Let’s be sure we understand how seismic testing can be done in a way that minimizes the damage to marine life.”
In seismic testing, a ship with air guns in tow that would send sound waves into the water that would go to the bottom, penetrate the ocean floor and send information back to the ship.
Rep. Pat McElraft, a Republican from Carteret County, said, “We need to protect the pristine environment that makes North Carolina so wonderful. But we also need to be smart and find out what’s out there.”
She believes the only way to know what resources are out there is to do seismic testing and she believes it can be done safely.
“We’re not talking about three miles in state water like you have down in the Gulf,” she said. “We’re talking about 50 to 65 miles offshore. So, as far as any environmental impact, there shouldn’t be one that far off.”
The petroleum industry and companies that do seismic testing agree the techniques to ensure safety are there. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is in favor of the testing.
But Price said there’s so much at stake that the feds should be absolutely sure before moving forward.
“I just want to proceed very, very carefully and I don’t see any overriding reason not to do so,” Price said.
Those involved say there won’t be seismic testing for energy exploration until sometime next year, at the earliest.