Preliminary approvals to allow seismic testing in the Atlantic were recently announced and South Carolina residents, communities and government officials are fighting back.
Two lawsuits were filed in federal district court in Charleston Tuesday afternoon in hopes of stopping the testing. Those suits are backed by residents, environmental groups, and mayors from towns and cities like Beaufort and Hilton Head.
The lawsuit alleges the approvals violate federal statutes in place that protect marine mammals and endangered species.
In November, the National Marine Fisheries Service approved five requests by the Trump Administration to issue permits from Delaware to Florida to allow companies to explore the ocean floor. This is done through seismic testing or acoustic blasts sent to the ocean floor and gives companies an idea of where oil and gas may be.
The federal agency issued its final incidental take, allowing the surveying if the harming of animals is unintentional. But thousands of people in South Carolina who are against the approvals are questioning why they are willing to chance it.
“Why would we take the risk of seismic blasts that we know will harm marine life? That we know could have the potential to harm the golden egg we have in the state?” asked Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling.
A recent study by the American Petroleum Institute projected offshore drilling could bring in $1.6 billion to the state. Meanwhile, critics counter saying tourism brings in $20 billion.
The last thing left do before seismic testing can begin is the issuance of permits in Columbia.