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Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted July 18, 2014

Administration Opens Atlantic Coast Areas to Oil and Natural Gas Exploration  


Washington Examiner: The Obama administration announced Friday that it would allow exploration for oil and gas off some portions of the Atlantic Coast using sonic testing devices that environmentalists say harm marine life.


The Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management gave the OK for seismic airgun testing, which are boat-towed cannons that shoot sonar blasts off the ocean floor to scan for oil-and-gas deposits, in the mid- and south-Atlantic areas that stretch from the Delaware Bay to just south of Cape Canaveral, Fla. The approval is a prelude to potential offshore drilling there, though that is blocked through 2017 under President Obama's five-year offshore drilling plan.

"The bureau has identified a path forward that addresses the need to update the nearly four-decade-old data in the region while protecting marine life and cultural sites,” said Acting BOEM Director Walter D. Cruickshank, who noted the agency has several permits on hand to conduct the seismic tests. “The bureau's decision reflects a carefully analyzed and balanced approach that will allow us to increase our understanding of potential offshore resources while protecting the human, marine and coastal environments.”

It's a big victory for the oil-and-gas industry, which is nearing its first chance to drill in the Atlantic Ocean in more than 30 years. It comes as BOEM recently raised its estimates for technically recoverable oil in the region to 4.72 billion barrels of oil and 37.51 trillion cubic feet of natural gas -- 43 percent and 20 percent higher, respectively, than agency estimates in 2011 .


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Mary Schaper is a Digital Communications Manager for the American Petroleum Institute. She previously worked on Capitol Hill for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as Digital Director and for Senator Lisa Murkowski. Before coming to D.C., she spearheaded digital strategy for Murkowski's successful Senate write-in campaign in 2010. Schaper enjoys traveling and taking in the local culture alongside her husband, their son and loyal springer spaniel.