Fenwick Island Joins Seismic Testing Opposition

FENWICK ISLAND – Officials in Fenwick Island last week said they would do whatever is possible to oppose seismic testing after learning the federal government had approved five permits to conduct such practices off the coast.

In a meeting of the Fenwick Island Town Council last Friday, Mayor Gene Langan said the town was working with state representatives and coastal associations to oppose plans for seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean.

“This is a precursor of an executive order that allows drilling in the Atlantic,” he said. “Once again, we want to stop it.”

On Nov. 30, the National Marine Fisheries Service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, announced it had issued incidental harassment authorization (IHA) permits to five separate companies to begin seismic air gun testing for oil and gas reserves in the Atlantic Ocean, which include areas off the coast from Delaware to Florida.

The permits will allow the companies to incidentally, but not intentionally, harass marine mammals in their efforts to conduct seismic testing.

Last April, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to reopen areas off the Atlantic coast to offshore oil exploration and drilling.

Since that time, the Fenwick Island Town Council has passed resolutions stating the town’s opposition to seismic testing and offshore drilling activities. Seismic air gun testing involves blasting compressed air into the ocean floor every 10 seconds in search of oil and natural gas reserves. This testing lasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week over several weeks.

Langan said last week he and wife Mary Ellen Langan, chair of the town’s environmental committee, had reached out to Sen. Tom Carper, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, Assateague Coastal Trust, Oceana and the Delaware Association of Coastal Towns to discuss other ways to protest seismic testing.

“We are going to try and do everything we can, if the council is still opposed, to oppose seismic testing and offshore oil drilling,” he said.

Fenwick Island is one of many stakeholders up and down the east coast to oppose seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean.

Since last week’s announcement, for example, a coalition of attorneys general, organizations, businesses and municipalities have opposed the approval of the five IHA permits.

“It’s moving quick,” Langan said, “and we certainly don’t want to see this happen.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.