Chip Gill, President of the International Association of Geophysical Contractors, recently submitted a letter to the editor of the St. Augustine Record. Mr. Gill’s letter is reprinted below:
“Editor: In response to the May editorial, ‘Seismic testing: Lots of pain, little gain,’ claims that seismic surveys cause serious harm to marine life are erroneous. The federal government acknowledges seismic surveys pose minimal risks of danger, stating ‘To date, there is no evidence that serious injury, death or stranding by marine mammals can occur from exposure to air gun pulses, even in the case of large airgun arrays (NOAA -NMFS, Federal Register Notice March 4, 2014-Vol. 79, No. 42 Page 12166, Comment No. 6). For 40 years, the industry has consistently demonstrated its ability to conduct seismic exploration in an environmentally responsible manner. There’s no scientific evidence demonstrating biologically significant negative impacts on marine mammal populations.
Marine mammal impact or injury estimates don’t reflect an actual expectation that mammals will be injured. Instead they’re the highest-range estimates of marine mammals which may be exposed to seismic activity, and according to the government ‘are not expected levels of actual take.’ Estimates don’t consider the role of mitigation in reducing risk. Exposure does not equal take.
Seismic surveys reduce safety and environmental risks and should be considered the preferred environmental management tool to prevent drilling ‘dry holes” (where there is little to no oil or gas). While we no longer explore with the drill bit, without seismic surveys, we would have no other option.
Seismic surveys don’t inevitably lead to drilling — that’s a policy decision. Such policy decisions should not be based on 30-year-old data. New seismic surveys will provide more accurate images of the subsurface, allowing policymakers to better evaluate the potential resource base.
Seismic surveys are necessary in determining where oil and gas are underlying the Atlantic and for siting offshore renewable projects. Seismic surveys are a part of the solution, not the problem.”