President Obama made a powerful, positive move today when he listened to a sea of opposition and withdrew the Atlantic Ocean from the 2017-2022 federal waters oil and gas lease sale. But his work isn't done. The people who live, fish and run their businesses on the Atlantic Coast have always understood that the fight to protect their way of life isn't just about a ban on offshore drilling. We must stop seismic airguns, too.
Drilling and seismic are heavy industrial bedfellows. Blasting our ocean with seismic airgun explosions in a hunt for oil and gas reserves will forever harm our whales, turtles and fish. And it blows the locks off the doors to keep offshore drilling out for good. If industry discovers oil, they will push to extract it and to plunder the Atlantic in a future lease sale, terrorizing our ocean life for shortsighted profits and reversing all the progress that was made today.
The oil and gas industry has applied for nine permits to bombard the Atlantic -- from New Jersey to Florida -- for months on end with underwater explosions. For the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to grant those permits now makes absolutely no sense. With no lease sales in the 2017-2022 5-year plan, allowing nine overlapping seismic surveys, flooding the Atlantic with deafening noise, would green-light senseless harm.
Keeping seismic out does not just save our great whales, sea turtles and fisheries from hurt today. It helps guard all of us from going down the wrong path in the future. Enough to dirty fuels. We all witnessed what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. The BP blowout off the coast of Louisiana spread oil for more than 1,000 miles and it continues to make that region's coastal dolphins deathly sick today. It's time to stop sacrificing our natural treasures and to shift instead to a cleaner, smarter, brighter future.
It isn't just environmentalists that understand the risks of seismic. Last year, in a letter to the President, a group of 75 ocean scientists warned that seismic airgun blasting threatens entire populations of whales. It can silence our last North Atlantic right whales over vast areas of ocean, separate moms of calves, and, at shorter distances, cause permanent hearing loss and injury. And it can displace commercial species of fish with dramatic effects on fisheries and the communities that depend on them.
Over 100 coastal communities have passed resolutions opposing seismic airgun testing as well as offshore drilling. As the City of Charleston's resolution explains, the natural coast contributes to the high quality of life its residents enjoy, "enabling business recruitment, economic growth, and attracting new residents." Seismic isn't compatible with that vision. More than one hundred members of Congress, over 750 state and local elected officials, and about 1,100 businesses have gone public to oppose offshore drilling and seismic testing in the Atlantic.
Last year was the hottest year on record. Now is the moment to stop the climate madness. We must call on President Obama to keep the Atlantic closed to all oil and gas activity. The region will not be safe until the threat of seismic surveys is ended.