South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Seismic Challenge is Ramping Up
Posted: February 8, 2018

SCELP is poised to file a complaint in opposition to seismic airgun surveying in the Atlantic, on behalf of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, and several municipalities along the coast.

Only a year ago, SCELP and its allies were celebrating the withdrawal of the Atlantic from the five-year plan for offshore drilling, which resulted in the denial of all pending permits to conduct seismic airgun surveying in the Atlantic. The seismic companies appealed that decision and SCELP, representing BAPAC, moved to intervene and defend our coast against harmful seismic airguns.

This victory was short-lived, as the new administration introduced an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and ordered the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) to reconsider the Atlantic for both seismic and drilling offshore. As a result, BOEM remanded the pending seismic permits to itself and resumed its review process.

In the summer of 2017 five draft incidental harassment authorizations (IHAs) were proposed for seismic companies to conduct airgun surveys in the Atlantic. SCELP commented in opposition to these authorizations, which would allow seismic airgun arrays to be dragged across the Atlantic, as close as three miles offshore, making blasting sounds every ten seconds for months on end. Seismic is extremely harmful to marine life, from microscopic zooplankton to massive right whales.

In anticipation of the pending issuance of those final IHAs, SCELP is preparing to file a federal lawsuit challenging seismic for the harms it would cause to our environment and coastal economy.

In the meantime, the coastal opposition to offshore drilling is reaching a sizzling point, with a "lone ranger" left to publicly advocate for the oil & gas industry, while over a dozen municipalities have already resolved to file a federal suit challenging any seismic permit that may be issued by the administration, along with the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. We are ready!

South to North, Municipalities who passed resolutions as of 4/30/18:
  • Hilton Head Island
  • Bluffton
  • Port Royal
  • Beaufort
  • Edisto Beach
  • Seabrook Island
  • Kiawah Island
  • Folly Beach
  • James Island
  • Charleston
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Isle of Palms
  • Pawleys Island
  • Briarcliffe Acres
  • North Myrtle Beach

Download available Small Business Chamber of Commerce Press Release - 4.5.18