Greens sue Trump admin to stop offshore oil testing

Environmental groups sued the Trump administration Tuesday, challenging key approvals five companies got that could lead to seismic testing for offshore oil and natural gas in the Atlantic Ocean.

Greens say the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a part of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, didn’t properly consider how harmful seismic airgun testing would be to marine species such as the right whale.

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The five companies have not yet gotten approval for the testing, which has to come from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

But the NMFS authorizations are a necessary precursor to seismic testing, allowing activities that conservation groups say could injure animals in the long term.

“NMFS’s conclusions that the authorized seismic surveys in the Atlantic meet these requirements defy science, law, and common sense,” the groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife, said in their lawsuit, filed in the federal District Court for the District of South Carolina.

“These violations threaten hundreds of thousands of marine mammals and the very survival of at least one species,” they wrote.

“The Trump administration is letting the oil industry launch a brutal sonic assault on North Atlantic right whales and other marine life,” Kristen Monsell, ocean program legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

“Right whales will keep spiraling toward extinction if we don’t stop these deafening blasts and the drilling and spilling that could come next. That’s why we’re taking the administration to court.”

NMFS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.