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N.J. to Appeal Ruling in Ocean 'Blasting' Case

Appeal to filed with circuit court in Philadelphia

The live positioning off the research boat Marcus G. Langseth, which will conduct seismic testing off New Jersey. (Map: MarineTraffic.com, Google Maps)
The live positioning off the research boat Marcus G. Langseth, which will conduct seismic testing off New Jersey. (Map: MarineTraffic.com, Google Maps)
New Jersey officials will appeal a federal court ruling issued Tuesday that allows a seismic blasting project to move forward over 230 square miles of ocean floor off the Jersey Shore.

The administration of Gov. Chris Christie had filed suit to block the seismic blast testing in waters off the coast of Ocean County on July 3, but on Tuesday a judge ruled in favor of Rutgers University, the University of Texas, and the National Science Foundation, the institutions conducting the testing with the stated goal of obtaining research data on climate change.

Shortly after news of the court ruling broke, the state Department of Environmental Protection issued a statement saying it would appeal the decision rendered Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Peter G. Sheridan, sitting in Trenton.

The state's appeal will be filed with the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

“This ruling is very disappointing to the administration, and could have a negative impact on the ocean and its wildlife,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. “The DEP believes this research, which would use loud, powerful sound blasts to map the ocean floor, will likely have a detrimental effect on New Jersey’s fisheries and marine mammals. We must take no chances when it comes to protecting our ocean resources, our commercial and recreational fishing, and our state’s $40 billion tourism economy. A healthy ocean is vital to our residents, our visitors, and our businesses.”

Commercial and recreational fishermen, the boating industry and environmentalists have all raised concerns that the blasting could decimate fishing grounds and harass or kill marine mammals, such as endangered species. There have also been concerns that the data derived from the testing could be used by oil companies to justify a renewed push to drill off the Jersey Shore.

DEP contends that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration failed to act properly when NOAA denied the DEP’s request to study fisheries impacts, the agency's statement said. The DEP’s Bureau of Marine Fisheries and Office of Environmental Review have both concluded the seismic activity would likely negatively impact New Jersey’s fish and marine mammal populations, including threatened and endangered species. The agency is also arguing that the proposed seismic research can either directly harm fish or disrupt migration patterns that will have a detrimental impact on our commercial and recreational fishing industry, especially since the testing is being done in the middle of the summer fishing and migration seasons.

The testing will involve air gun blasts 11,500 feet underground that will reach sounds of 250 or more decibels and occur every five seconds, 24 hours a day, for a month. The testing will occur over a 230 square mile swath of ocean between 15 and 50 miles off Barnegat Inlet.
Ms Hollister - Don't flaunt your ignorance.
AT SARAH HOLLISTER _ WHY? Because there is no way the citizens of NJ will stand for drilling rigs offshore, for starters, so it's a wasted effort, and because the "science" under which the project is taking place is a shroud over what is essentially a geological survey for fossil fuels. If you are an Environmental Scientist, that comes with an implied requirement of Environmental Stewardship. This is a destructive process, with permanent ramifications for the ecosystem off our shores. There is even an effort to "spin" this that it's okay to perform these tests once the tourist season is over, because the migrating mammals won't be in the area...REALLY? The waters off the Jersey shore are, not surprisingly, like a "Toll Booth" in the Gulf Stream. A basic understanding of ocean currents, migration, and the damage that can be done by exposure to intense sound would be sufficient to raise objections...but, apparently, large checks from the "drill, baby, drill" crowd were sufficient to cause this to go forward. There was no law on the books to stop this. That is why the "APPLICATION FOR INJUNCTION" failed. There is plenty of science to back up the results, but NOAA signs the permission slip, and Department of Commerce pulls their strings...do I have to lay it out any more simply? NO Federal Legislator from NJ has stepped up to introduce legislation enhancing the protection of the fisheries, or of the marine mammals - which, were it passed into law, could at least cause an injunction to be put in place until the courts made a further ruling. The grant monies subsidizing this research? Follow the money. Proposal and adoption of emergency legislation could have been done back in April...HOW MANY INCUMBENTS could have acted? BOTH SENATORS, for starters. I am not in office, yet, but that would have been among my first moves in this issue - a moratorium on seismic blasting in the presence of endangered marine life (a start) - the Atlantic Right Whales ALONE are sufficient cause). I intend to win our District Three race. Has anyone - including every single NJ Federal office holder - proposed Federal legislation to block this? No. Would it pass? Big Oil Dollars would work hard to thwart it, so it would depend on how much pressure could be brought to bear on the present office holders - every single one of which in the HOUSE are seeking re-election this year. FRANK LoBiondo - Frank Pallone - Chris Smith - Jon Runyan (yes, I know, according to your letters, you only have 6 months left in your "tenure", but you COULD ACT) - Senators Booker and Menendez....If YOU won't write the Bill, will you at least SUBMIT IT FOR CONSIDERATION if I DO? Put your own names on it, for all I care. I learned long ago that it's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't give a damn about who gets the credit. I never in a million years would have believed that this is where the issue would end up - with the approval of the DOC for a "take" of up to 10% of the remaining population of Atlantic Right Whales as "bycatch" treated as an "acceptable loss". Frank P - you know how to reach me - let's talk.
This issue certainly rises to the level of "emergent threat".
"Sarah" - you have never chimed in on any other issue. Work for the blasters?

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