Energy & Environment

North Carolina sues federal government over approval of seismic tests for oil and gas

North Carolina is suing the federal government over its decision to try to locate oil and gas off the state’s coast despite objections from the state. 

In June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) allowed a company to move ahead with seismic testing, which uses blasts from air guns to try to detect oil and gas deposits in the ocean. 

This decision overrode an objection from the state, which opposed the testing.

The seismic testing is a step that comes ahead of offshore drilling, and NOAA’s decision falls in line with the administration’s goals of expanding oil and gas production. 

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, North Carolina’s government argued that NOAA did not adequately show that testing would significantly advance the national interest and also didn’t adequately show that the adverse impacts would be minor. 

The filing also said that the blasts could affect commercial and recreational fishing, tourism, research and endangered species in the area, including the North Atlantic right whale whose population has dwindled to about 400. 

“Protecting our state’s beautiful natural resources — and the critical economic benefits they bring to our state — is one of the most important mandates of my job,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) said in a statement. “North Carolinians have made their views crystal clear: We do not want drilling off our coast.”

Spokespeople for NOAA and the Commerce Department didn’t immediately respond to The Hill’s requests for comment. 

Tags Offshore drilling seismic blasting

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